In the recent book The Map and the Territory which collects various projects of Luigi Ghirri’s, we get to read in his own words how he thinks about making pictures out in the world. Below are some noteworthy excerpts.

First Photographs

“I have never been interested in what is commonly referred to as style. Style is a coded reading, and I believe photography to be a codeless language, and rather than a kind of restriction, it is a broadening and an expansion of communication. 

Photographic ‘style’ is inherent in the very choice of photography as a language, and its way of seeing the world is inevitably limited by horizontal and vertical lines, i.e. what is caught within the frame. In this sense, photography always implies subtraction, or a sense of something missing, something outside of the frame.” 


“My focus on the destruction of direct experience – the invasion of images into our living environments – begins here. In the work, I wanted to offer an analysis of truth and falsehood, of the gap between what we are, and the image of what we’re supposed to be – and ultimately to think critically about the denial and concealment of truth. This distinction between true and false is increasingly difficult to make, and it seems progressively impossible to get beyond the immediately visible.”

F/11, 1/125, Natural Light

“While on the one hand I reject Cartier-Bresson’s ideology, I also find the arguments against the famous ‘decisive moment’ just as sterile and unenlightening. From a practical point of view, if these criticisms were theoretically sound, the images of the new American photography – from Friedlander through Winogrand to Meyerowitz, and the portraits and other work by Mulas – would be impossible to read. Photography always expresses itself in that coincidence between the moment of the photograph – real time – and a simultaneous inner moment chosen by the photographer, even when dealing with aspects that are not directly related to the passing of time. Planning the work does not cancel out the decisive moment, because it is impossible to eliminate chance happenings, even within well-defined choices and projects…”


“I’ve never liked ‘nature’ photographs. This applies to all kinds of nature photographs, from those in which nature is portrayed in all its most mysterious or metaphysical aspects, to the abstract coercion of meaning into sheer blocks of colour or signs. In these images and in the desperate attempt to capture ‘natural moments’, I’ve always felt I was encountering an enormous paradox that runs to the very heart of photographic language itself. The Renaissance discovery of the camera obscura – which took place in urban intellectual circles – revealed that ‘natural’ vision was a construct; the image, they discovered, was formed upside down within an enclosed space, when the scope of the outside world passed through a tiny hole. This discovery negated the prospect of ever representing or knowing ‘nature’. 

Even though there are wonderful cases in the history of photograhy that seem to contradict my conviction, it’s also true that these episodes are only partial examples, or ‘captured moments’ that lead back to aesthetic phenomena, and to the visual languages of painting, engraving rather than epiphanies or illuminations.”