You’re a street photographer, yet you have a body of work on your cat Trevor. How did that come about?
To be quite frank, I do not think I can call myself a street photographer. I like the genre very much but I found myself practising it less and less, in many ways it is too restricting for me and too much stuck in its own ways, with not much room for freedom.
I would say it came about naturally. I have a crazy cat and I love taking photos. I guess there can be a relationship between street photography and my little project on Trevor. It is all about capturing that particular moment that best describes a situation and the subject you are photographing. I think the oddness of the situations is what made me carry on shooting more.
My body of work on Trevor started not long after I brought him into my home. Still a kitten, I realised that he had some ginger spice in him. He does what most cats do, right? I thought it would be nice to photograph something many of us are familiar with but also letting my cat’s personality shine through. And he certainly has a personality. My question is: how many photos can you produce of one cat in one small flat and still engage your viewers with surprise? The work continues and yes, I do not take it too seriously, it is just a little bit of fun.
Tell us a little about Trevor.
I grew up in the Italian countryside, pets and farm animals were part of this growing up. I have always loved animals and as a child I dreamt of being a wildlife camerawoman or photographer, taking part in many adventures in some wild remote part of the world documenting the local wildlife. Those years of day dreaming about this whilst flicking through my mum and dad’s National Geographic magazines are long gone. Moving out of my family home at 18 to come and live here in Scotland to start college made me miss the countryside. City life and rented accommodation did not allow me to look after a pet. Thirteen years later, feeling settled and owning my own home I decided to rehome a rescue cat. Trevor’s pink piggy nose was my pick. He was scared of nothing and being a stray cat before I took him in, added a little wild to my home. Pretty much immediately the jumping, the hanging and the inquisitiveness came through. I could not resist taking photos, he had me entertained. So I guess my childhood dream did come true after all? Well lets put it this way, it will have to do.
What is your approach when it comes to shooting (both on the street and Trevor)?
My approach is varied. Most important for me personally is perseverance. When I know I am on to something good I insist until I am happy with the results. Of course, that is not always possible as the right moment is a fleeting instant. To be prepared is the key, without the moment you do not say much.
You once said in an interview that, “People here in Edinburgh are often very reserved/private and I respect that.” How has the reservation/privacy affected your photography?
I would say quite drastically as I have almost completely stopped taking pictures of people. I am not quite sure if this is because of how my work is naturally evolving or because losing interest in street photography has made me look away from the stranger on the street. Or perhaps I just do not feel comfortable taking photos of strangers anymore. A combination of all I suppose. Also, working Monday to Friday in the heart of Edinburgh pushes me in my free time, to get out of town. A walk on the beach or a trip to the Scottish countryside is what I prefer doing now. Mainly because I need to take a break from the crowds. Animal, portraiture and landscape photography is what I have turned my attention to and I immensely enjoy it. But never will I stop finding the oddness and the wonderfulness of the world we live in.
What project do you have planned next?
I have a couple of projects on the go. The one closest to my heart focuses on my family in the past and present, I consider it a personal journey. It will take the form of a book and the work will be accompanied by some short stories. I have been revisiting past moments that have been key to my family’s past, revisiting these via old family photos and with new ones discovering what has changed and how. I want to understand and place together with the use of my photography what the passing of time has meant for my family and I. It is hard work and a lot of scanning of old photos is involved. Although it’s time consuming and the final result will not see the light of day any time soon, I am enjoying the process very much.
In the mean time I am experimenting with another project which is at its very early stages, it’s title “Have I Met You Before?” It focuses on the idea of meeting the same face on the streets. As strangers we often share our daily routines, we recognise familiar faces passing us on the streets, on our way to work, on the bus, in our favourite coffee shop or in our local store. Sometimes we see that particular stranger more than our closest friends yet most of the time we never end up interacting or acknowledging each other’s familiar-ness. This project explores this and I am sure it is something we all have experienced. I certainly have, hence why I have decided to transfer this into a photo project.
Last but not least and if I may call it a project as such, is the collaboration with a group of passionate and talented photographers. I am thrilled! Our collective was born a few months ago and it is still work in progress but so far the experience is proving to be a positive one. We should be ready to launch soon.
Lesley Ann Ercolano loves a good laugh, her closest friends, freshly ground coffee and the smell of basil…it reminds her of the Italian sun, of home.