Who are you?
I'm Daniel Cati, I’m a photographer/filmmaker and storyteller. I have been living in Berlin for 5 years now. I’m from Bologna (Italy), where I achieved a BA in history and theory of cinema. After that, I moved to NY to study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy and after almost 3 years I moved to Berlin, following my girlfriend which is now my wife.
While studying filmmaking, my first idea was to become a director and a screenwriter. I love storytelling and there is always a good story to tell, you just need to find it or it has to find you. When I started I always thought: “ I will never touch a camera”. I was not into the technical aspects at all, nor was I interested in learning lighting techniques, different equipment and so on. My only focus was directing and writing. But I slowly concluded that telling a story through just one picture, was my final goal.
Photography has such a big power. To me, it is the ability to create, focusing only on the core of whatever you want to express. A picture, a good picture, is like a very powerful statement.
Why portrait photography?
The portrait is simply the natural consequence of what I’m interested in, which is people and the different stories we all have. Portraiture is about giving and receiving. You need to get the trust of your subject to get what you are looking for. It is a way to discover other people but also a way to understand yourself. It can be very intimate, I guess that’s also why I am attracted to it.
Many different people inspire me, for many different reasons. Lots of them have nothing to do with photography or filmmaking.
If I could summarise what inspires me, have you ever read “Itaca”, Costantino Kavafis’ poem? Well, the meaning of that poem is what pushes my creativity the most.
Most of the time I don’t know the people I’m taking pictures of. It is easier for me to have a “stranger” in front of me. I feel it’s easier to open up. If it is for a specific project or assignment, I do my homework searching for who they are and what they do, to have a big picture. It is harder for me to take a picture of someone close to me. I barely take pictures of my wife and she kinda hates me for that.
What's the story behind the winning portrait?
The picture is a portrait of a very good friend of mine, Annalisa. She was visiting and in that period I was renting a studio. I took the opportunity to take her portrait. It was not easy because taking pictures of someone that you know can be tricky sometimes. On one side you already know that person, on the other hand when they sit in front of you for the first time and you look into the viewfinder, it could feel like having a brand new person on the other side of the lens. So there's this weird situation where you know each other and at the same time it feels like you don’t.
What's your current focus?
The most impactful project I have is an ongoing project called “Berlin-MANyLAND”. It’s a portrait project where I take pictures of people who decided for some reason to move to Berlin. I listen to their stories. Many people don’t consider Berlin a final destination but only a transition place. Other people came here to find themselves and to lose themselves as well. Others need a fresh start. Having travelled a bit and being an ex-pat myself, I like sharing these kinds of experiences. It became a sort of therapy session. The conversations are very intimate and so different. But all these stories, however different, have something in common. Same dreams and same fears.
2021 will be a very crucial year for my career I think. Berlin’s market is very hard but not impossible to “conquer”. I think it’s a matter of trying and being able to adjust. This year I would like to work more with magazines and I’d like to create more connections most importantly, I’d like to create meaningful connections. You know, sometimes you work on sets, you work with people but you won’t talk to them anymore after the end of the production. We are in a field where connections are vital, both in a business sense and in a creative sense.
You always need other creatives to create. Creativity feeds creativity.