Photographers are often deep thinkers and quite articulate when they discuss their ideas related to the medium and practice of photography. In this new book of essays by Luigi Ghirri, we’re treated to nearly two decades of thoughtful ruminations written by this Italian photographer—now translated into English and collected into one volume for the first time.

Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) is perhaps best known internationally for his first book, Kodachrome (1978, republished in 2012), which was described as “an avant-garde manifesto for the medium of photography”.

The Complete Essays 1973–1991 includes 68 texts ranging from newspaper articles, to book introductions, notes for photography classes and lectures, and some personal thoughts about pop culture of the day.

Here is a short excerpt, first published in 1973:

Cardboard Landscapes

When I travel, I take two kinds of photographs: the typical ones that everyone takes, and which in the end, I’m hardly interested in; and then the others, the ones I really care about, and the only ones that I really consider ‘my own.’

In this second category of photographs, the subjects are everyday objects, things found in our ordinary field of vision – images that we are used to looking at passively. Isolated from the reality which surrounds them and presented in a photograph as part of a different discourse, these images become laden with new meaning.

And it’s here that we can start to look upon them actively, that we can embark on a critical reading of them. This is why I’m particularly interested in the urban landscape and the outskirts of towns – because that’s the reality that I experience every day, and that I know best and that I’m able to represent as a ‘new landscape’ subjected to ongoing critical analysis.

This book is meant to be read slowly, even savored, over a long time; not read and digested in one sitting.

— LensCulture

The Complete Essays 1973-1991
by Luigi Ghirri
Publisher: Mack
240 pages, 50 color plates
68 essays