In many ways, the cats of Istanbul are the truest residents of the city. They are brave and flirtatious; it is as if they are showing you how they can act like humans. They have been there longer than anyone else.
Even before moving to Istanbul in 2012, Sami Uçan was possessed by Istanbul’s magic. Once in the city, he began to photograph the ancient city walls and mosques, treating them as an open-air museum. Sami’s photographs witnessed a past time. But tombstones gradually became too still and boring.
As he looked at his photographs of these stones, he noticed peculiar guests who appeared around them. It seemed as if the cats hanging around the cemeteries were waiting for someone to be friends with them. Noticing the cats changed the author’s photographic style.
Having travelled in his country and many places in the world, the cats of Istanbul are the friendliest. They come out onto the road to greet us. It is an indescribably wonderful experience when they turn around one’s legs and jump onto one’s lap, purring to show their love. In Istanbul, while walking around the city, you’ll find that the cats appear around you. They live everywhere.
When one thinks of Istanbul, the sea, minarets and domes of the mosques, the fish, seagulls, and pigeons come to mind. Street cats are as relevant as all of these. The meaning of Istanbul emerges: cats are the royals of the city.
As time passed and Sami Uçan further developed his photographic explorations of the city, it seemed that cats had become his photographic partners. As if he had tapped into a special communication network or frequency that the cats all shared, and suddenly everywhere he went, there they were. They have now become this author’s favourite subjects, and he often goes out specifically to photograph them. “Stray Cats” is an ongoing series for over ten years.


Sami Uçan is a Turkish Street Photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. He works as an engineer in a public institution and met photography in 2008. His turning point was meeting with the Magnum photography agency and since then continues his photography adventure with increasing enthusiasm.
He likes to apply what he learnt with photographs in different genres, even though street and documentary photography are of particular interest. His photography work has been published in national and international magazines and books, and he was able to share his knowledge with photography lovers all over the world.
‘Stray Cats’ was exhibited at the Bursa Photography Festival in 2016 and met with photography lovers. In 2018, a CAT photo album about ‘Stray Cats’ was published and later praised by Alex Webb when featured on Lensculture.