You only started taking photographs 4 years ago, and in a very short time have received significant recognition for your work; awards, exhibitions and publications. What happened 4 years ago that inspired you to pick up a camera? What have you learned from being a champion rower that also prevails in your work as a photographer?
I discovered that the camera was a great medium to express my emotions. It also enabled me to give happiness to others. I try to give light to the ones who live in the dark. When I take pictures I feel good, it is therapy to me. To be a champion rower gives me the opportunity to live the lagoon and to see the beauty of Venice and its islands, especially when I need to photograph them. To row helps tie me to nature.
You were born on Burano and I imagine have known Emma Vidal all your life. Your portraits of her are deeply tender. What is the most important element to creating a portrait, especially of someone celebrating her 103rd birthday?
Mrs. Emma is unique, not just for her longevity but also for her simple way of life. She loves her lace work and while talking with her I was fascinated by her personality. When I take pictures of people at work I always try to establish a kinship and affinity with them. But when I took pictures of Mrs. Emma, I felt I was in front of a Burano Institution. And because of that, I couldn’t feel at ease. But then her attitude helped me a lot. She has been special to me.
The other person that you have photographed with great deliberation and love is your father. Is it difficult to photograph your father objectively? What do you hope to convey in the photographs of your father at work?
Taking pictures in his lagoon environment, while he is fishing, wasn’t difficult at all. In this context my father is a natural. He is 78 and he has been fishing in the Venice lagoon since he was six. My photographic project was a two-year effort that I gave to my father as a gift. I know I can communicate to others through photography, and I think it is even more beautiful to show through pictures my father’s lagoon heart.
You’ve started a collaboration with the poet, Bruno Pasetto. Does Bruno choose a photo and then write a poem to go with it? Have you been surprised by the words that Bruno has associated with your images? How does language enhance your photography?
Yes! Bruno, with his poetic writer’s vision chooses the pictures and then he transforms them with poetry. Bruno is now a very good friend and his poetic verses with my images still surprise me. He even dedicated two poems with two of my pictures to my father and my daughter. My legacy with him is so tight that it goes far beyond a simple collaboration. Bruno picks up the essence of an image and he digs out the heart of what I have photographed.
You’ve photographed many Venetians at work; lace maker, baker, shoemaker, artist…. When I view these portraits there is a focus on their hands, they often dominate the photo. What is the significance that you place on hands?
Hands have a SOUL, they are the artisans’ and the artists’ background. With their hands they create their artwork and they bare their personality, which I try to photograph with all the details.
Can you please tell us about Obiettivo, the photography school on Burano?
I’ve been a member of FotoClub “ Obiettivo Burano” for almost 4 years. I started with a course in photography, which was organized by this group. Thanks to Obiettivo Burano’s support, I professionally grew up and through my images I learned to express my emotions. In the Club we are all friends who share the same passion, proud to be part of the most photographed and colorful island in the world.
Manuela Cattaneo della Volta (translation)