Four Questions on Photography: Ilvy Njiokiktjien in Conversation With…Stefano de Luigi

“Four Questions on Photography: Ilvy Njiokiktjien in Conversation With…” is a series of events where well-known photographers discuss with Ilvy their response to these questions:

– What is your most important photograph, how did you make it, and what impact do you think it had?
– What is your biggest photo failure; an image you wanted or needed but you messed up somehow?
– What is your dream image or story?
– What advice would you give to your younger self?

In this fourth episode of the event series, Ilvy is in conversation with Stefano de Luigi.



Ilvy Njiokiktjien: Thank you. So, thanks everyone for being here, and I think I’m going to introduce you, Stefano. Or maybe you want to do it yourself but I checked your biography and I figured maybe it would be nice to read a part of it, because you’ve won so many awards throughout the years, if I would read out the whole list, it’s gonna fill up the 40 minutes. I made it a bit shorter. So Stefano de Luigi, born in 1964, we wouldn’t be able to tell is our has been a professional photographer since ’98. He lives in Paris. And you started in Paris working in ’89 to ’96 working for the Louvre, I think. Yeah, I want to hear about that later, actually, because I’m curious what you were there. But I’m not allowed to ask because it’s not part of the four questions so someone else in the Q&A, please ask this question. In 2006, he embarked on the project cinema Monday, a world cinema exploration, on the alternative cinema to graphic scene Far Away from Hollywood, including countries as China, Russia, Iran, Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, and India, you did a whole world tour there. And he has won four World Press awards in different years and in 2017, he published his third book, Idyssey. In 2018, his last book Babel. And he’s a member of VII Photo since 2008. So thanks, Stefano, for being here. That’s quite an impressive list.


Stefano de Luigi: Thanks Ilvy, thank you for having me.


Ilvy: So, you know, the concept, I’m allowed to ask you four questions. We might do five or six but anyone else who wants to ask a question, feel free to put one in the Q&A box below. And the first question is, what is your most important image that you took so far in your career?


Stefano de Luigi: Yeah. Well, it’s a rough question, indeed. I was listening to the last interview you had with Maggie, and I agree. I mean, it’s very difficult when you when you asked me to, to participate to this meeting. I said, okay, yes, for question. It’s not, it’s not so difficult. But then when I discovered the nature of the question, and I start to remind what in I have to decide, which was the most important picture I had, and I had the lots of very important picture that make a real change in my career, but so decided the very one, it’s very difficult, it was very difficult. But in the end, I think I’m honest, and maybe I’m going to show you the picture. I will share the screen. Okay, I’m honest, to show this picture. Because I think that’s what’s really the most important picture of my entire career. Let me give you some context about this picture. It was 1995, so it was already 12 years that I was a photographer, and, but I was struggling a lot about what I want to do in my future. I was jumping on an assignment to another one for the Press Magazine, mainly in France because I was living in France at the time. And I was honestly very frustrated because I could feel that I didn’t go forwards in terms of aesthetic in terms of construction of a story and narrative. It were just a normal feature that we know very well of two or three days covering, maybe election in a foreign country or short Documentary Feature in France or in Italy, and then arrived the point that I wanted to have a break of all this practice. And I went back in Italy, for, for a while for more than the classic, one week or two weeks work. I tried to make some space for an idea that I had. And the idea was explain how in a character, as the former Prime Minister Berlusconi could have been elected in Italy. At that time, 1994 was a shock in Italy and in Europe that a Tigran from TV could have been elected the the most important to the top place of politics in Italy. And I decided to try and to explain to foreign publics, especially France, but in general, how that was possible in photography in all the television industry in Italy. So the idea was a long travel in the universe of all the programs of private and public television. And this, this moment, for me was really a key moment, because as I told you, I wanted to make space for us something different in the narrative, trying to build a real project with photography, and develop in my own language, my own style.


Stefano: And when I took this picture, and then I doubled up because it’s obviously negative black and white. And I saw this picture, maybe one week later than I took it, I understood two things, one that I did well to take time and make space for something else that I was not used to doing. And secondly, most important, I understood that I could have a voice with photography, because in this picture, I was able to condensate, all the elements that explain the reason of what I saying Berlusconi took the power, the reason of what we were watching on TV in Italy at the time, and the mixture of entertainments, and politics, that’s was a sort of revelation for me. And of course, after 1995, I did a lot of mistake, but I was sure at that moment that I could be able to run a project. And since then, I did maybe five or six projects in my life so that’s honestly was the revelation, like a reborn.


Ilvy: At the time when you started this project, where you kind of working in the same way that you are now like, did you make a project plan? Or was it an idea in your mind, and you just started shooting it?


Stefano: No, I told you, I just left for Italy with some ideas, but was very, it was not at all. I needed to find something else. That’s for sure. So I left saying okay, before one mount, you don’t go back. And of course, I knew that I wanted to work on television. But I didn’t know at all what I was going to do in terms of construction of a narrative in terms of building in shaping the project. So was really something that described me that was possible to do something like that. And I was able to do that, that’s most important. To see in a different way. Not running after the the information or the news, but maybe giving a vision a little bit more elaborate with different degrees of reading in the same picture. And since then, I still now I mean, I’m trying to, to develop this concept inside the picture but that was the real moment. And I remember very well when I develop this picture and I said, Oh, my God, this is something very different from everything you have done so far. So you are able to do that. And I was very, very happy at the moment, but I didn’t really realize how much important was this moment.


Ilvy: Hmm. But now looking back, you realize it?


Stefano: Now I realize very well That’s that was really a big, big changement. But of course, like, normally happens, you don’t realize on the on the real moment you realize just after that was the moment of changement.


Ilvy: Yeah, that it wasn’t a turning point. Very. Yeah. And where was it published and who exactly is in this picture?


Stefano: It was published. I’m not saying everywhere, but it was published in us he would publish in Europe. And I was in Europe, in France, in Germany, and of course, in Italy. So I was also an all this comfort myself in the idea that I had seen, right, I mean, that was readable, understandable. And also, magazine, and newspaper, even new clients could see the synthesis, or the synthesis of different information inside this picture. Because as you see, this is a sort of parody of a press conference in the White House. The woman, which is a starlet of TV was parodying, at the time, I think there was President Bill Clinton, something like that, and was really a parody of a press conference in the garden of White House with all the micros in front of her. And I got this picture just to make a resume of what was the entertainment at the time in Italy, that was based on obviously, a lot about sex appeal, or sex messages, and sort of distort this information that we which was filtered by the control of a political party. That’s was everything was inside the picture in a magazine start to use that as a symbol of the Berlusconi era in Italy. So..


Ilvy: And it was part as I understand of a wider series, right? So you’re exactly describing the same kind of feeling which became quite relevant again. Recently, when Trump became president of the United States.


Stefano: The curious part was that I of course, I keep on working on this subject in Italy, this matter in Italy till 2000 But at the same times, I remember that when I was in the the WordPress Photo master class, which has a name job, swart? Maybe? One of the masters sees the picture about Italian television and advise me to open and I remember, he said, go global. Yeah. And give us a reflection about this media around the world, of course, pick up some important countries for the production of this. Media like U.S., like Mexico, for instance, for all the telenovelas soap operas, but go global. And so also that, you know, open me other door about how you set a long term project in many different country, but with the same issue, and I was not the first to do that, of course, because I mean, Salgado did that before everybody else. But I understand that I had in my hand, something very important to carry on along the years and set up a real project. So again, I think that was a key moments. Very important feature for me.


Ilvy: I see there are two questions coming in in the Q&A. You are probably seen them too..


Stefano: Stop the sharing the screen, can you read me them?


Ilvy: Yeah I can you. I’ll read it to you from Eric, it’s definitely your images are so unique. And you can see them as well. Yeah. How does one go about finding their own voice or unique style in visual storytelling? That’s quite a difficult, I’m happy you have to answer because it’s very broad.


Stefano: Yeah. Well, I try to answer in a very positive way. I think to find a your own voice. First of all, you have to find yourself I mean, you have to know yourself. You will see, Eric, we will talk about my big failure, and you will, you will understand better what I mean about that. But I know that for me, for instance, for many years, I dreamt to become a war photographer, because I was really prisoner of many cliches that for me, photography was when I started, was covering war and that was more of running after cliche. And especially do not consider my my own nature and my own natural is not an natural war photographer, right? So I understand that my voice could be a one voice when I start to understand myself. So you need a lot of humility, you need to be humble. And maybe reframe a little bit, some ideas about yourself. But then you will find for sure something that you are interested in the focus of your interest. And from this point, you can start to build your own voice and your own narrative, because it’s going to be true. That’s very important.


Ilvy: That’s a beautiful way of answering this question. And then question from Sarah, our lovely colleague, VII colleague, Sarah so Stefano, this photo is so interesting, because I think it can be read in so many ways, the context you are bringing to it now as you discuss the thinking behind it. The context you are bringing, yeah. And then also the way it might be considered today, in the context of hashtag me to lots of ways to see it, actually, but I’m curious how you see the image today.


Stefano: Um, Sarah knows that, but I am, I like when the issue that I’m working on is risky. Because can be I mean, all my story, if you consider that I work on issues like pornography, for instance, or telling the odyssey to iPhone, it’s always a challenge, right? It can be a technical challenge, but it’s mainly an intellectual challenge. Working on blind people, as a photographer is a very big intellectual challenge, a challenge, right? And I think it’s a part of my nature, to be provocative, just to make a stimulus of my work toward the people watch my picture. So considering the cancel culture, or I mean, I know what what is happening today in the world and I’m a little bit scared about our freedom of thinking, but I know as well that I’m not going to stepping back. I mean, I’m ready to explain I’m ready to consider all critics and takes the discussion. But I think also my works speaks for myself, and I would take the same picture today, in other words.


Ilvy: Thanks. Thanks for answering. And great question, Sarah. So I think we’re going to the difficult question, or at least, I would think this is a difficult question, but maybe you thought it was easier. What is your biggest photo failure?


Yeah. No, there are many failure in my..


Ilvy: That’s the thing that if I would have to answer this question, I would be like, oh, yeah, I have a few on my list.


Stefano: You know? Yeah, I was very shared into a big failure. And then I thought that was the ones that I’m going to show you. It’s more a professional failure. Then. The other one, I was very young. I was in the beginning. So it’s not I think this one is more important. Share the screen again. Sorry. Yeah, there we go. Okay.


Ilvy: I’m curious to know what the story Is? I like the image.


Stefano: Yeah, this picture has been taken in Nabatieh, south of Lebanon in 1997. So two years after the other picture that I showed you before, and in the picture, you can see two member of the Shia community and we are in the one of the most important town of the South of Lebanon controlled by the movement Isbola, which is a political and political and for some states terrorist movement, which control the south part of Lebanon, which is Shia. So it’s the minority of the Muslim world, but very important in Lebanon. And at that time in 1997, I wanted to make, because I was still thinking that was a war reporter somehow. To find me..


Ilvy: That stayed with you for a while, I’m guessing?


Stefano: Yeah but yeah, stayed till 1999. Then I decided then I understood that was really not my life. But this one was the big failure, because I was working already for an agency. I set up all my contacts, which were resumed to one contacts. And that’s was the first part of the big mistake and the big failure, and was a military attache, in Lebanon Embassy in Rome. So within my I had a very good contact office, obviously, I wanted to do all the aspects, I want to tell all the story about Hezbollah. But of course, the most important part of this work is should that be in the training camp because Hezbollah were giving the non military answer to Israel and military threat to represented a military threat to his to Israel. And this was also in a journalistic way, the most important part because it was very, very difficult to show military training of Hezbollah. So I thought that I had the very good contact, and I left for Lebanon for a couple of weeks again. I remember very well, because it’s ridiculous now, but and now I laugh about that. But at the time, it was like living in a movie, because and they allowed me to do, of course, the most easy part, such as clinics, such as schools, even TV and radio, because they had a very important media department. But I was always asking for this training camp. And they always say, Yes, don’t worry, you will do that. You will run it, but you have to be ready, because it’s very complicated. So we have to carry you in maybe in, you know, in the back of the car when you something like that. Yeah. And you can imagine, I was so excited. I mean, like in a movie, you know,


Ilvy: I wonder where this all is going, Okay.


Stefano: The first week, when I need a lot of shoot, but I will start to be a little bit worried because the answer was always the same. And I realized, on that time, that I had only one contact that was person and that was a guarantee for me that there was not an Israeli spy or anything like that, but he was in Rome. He was not Beirut, I was based in Beirut. So after one week, I call the Embassy in Rome. And I ask to the guy, well, I’m very happy so far, because I’m doing a lot of stuff but still the training camp are not coming. And he said, don’t worry, don’t worry, they will come they are testing you. They’re testing you. And I said, yeah, okay, but my ticket expiring that one week. So I would like to spend at least one or two days in this training camp because, you know, yeah, don’t worry, don’t worry. Okay. And then again, another clinics, another hospital, another rally. I went one day on the border with Israel. And that’s was the most the highlights of my trip. Where I from 10 kilometers, I could see the Israeli army position on the border. And in the end, you can understand I mean, because it’s a failure because they never saw the inch of training camp. I never saw that.


Ilvy: What a disappointment. I just kind of kept telling it’s going to happen, and it never did.


Stefano: So I discover two things in this. Two lessons, the first lesson was never go only with one contact. I mean, you have to always have a plan B, because if the content that provides you paradise everything on the moment that you need reveal itself to be not. I mean, not what we were saying. I mean, all the promises, where we’re just like wind, you are naked, like I was in Lebanon, because I really didn’t have any other clue too. And secondly, try to understand why a thing has not been done before. I mean, of course, it’s very difficult, but so you have to double your effort to be sure that if you promise to the because my problem was that I provide to the agency, and they were to magazine that we’re waiting for this.


Ilvy: Oh, that’s extra painful. People were really waiting for these images.


Stefano: Exactly. And I come back in Rome with my I don’t know, there is an expression in Italians that say, with my tail into my legs means something I will be destroyed, professionally. And I remember that I tried, of course to make some positive stuff from a negative experience. But that’s is the and anytime I am too high, I go back to see my Lebanon story to say, okay, come down. Because you come from there, you went through this. And this is always waiting for you around the corner if you don’t pay attention.


Ilvy: And this specific image, was this published in the end, because I’m in the camp didn’t…


Stefano: Probably has been published a one or two times, we publish in the Dallas newspaper, The but I mean, I had space for 10 pages on magazines, you know, it’s..


Ilvy: Oh, is it still painful for you then to look at this image? Like, do you always think..?


Stefano: Now it’s not painful. But I tell you, just when I am a little bit too. Not superficial, but I’m too sure of something. I always remind this story. So I go back to double check if everything I’m quite a perfectionist, indeed. So but I am always afraid that something go wrong because I didn’t work enough to to set up a good contacts or double check the how you said the.. when somebody is trustable is feasible, you know about, something that is true in this country. And you can you can really trust that you are the best fixer, for instance or so yeah, I think this big failure is important because it was a great lesson for me. And probably if I did this fucking training camp, sorry for the expression but probably I didn’t get this big lesson. And I think it’s necessary some times in your career to have a big failure to make you thinking and even if you are going very well, you still have to be very professional and very attentive of all the different aspects of your work, and not to give for granted anything, anytime.


Ilvy: I think it’s also a good lesson for anyone who’s listening now and who sometimes works on long term stories or wants to work on stories like this, that it’s super important to keep yeah, to all the things that you just said to keep your mind open to this because it’s quite easy for stories to fall apart like this.


Stefano: Definitely, for me I mean, it was because I didn’t have a plan B I trust too much a person was very naive, right?


Ilvy: That’s also good advice to always have a plan B but I guess here there wasn’t much Plan B to be made because this is what you wanted. Right?


Stefano: Yeah, but I because I was I mean I was completely running after this dream to be the first to bring back a beautiful and exquisite reportage from Lebanon about Hezbollah and I didn’t pay enough attention to the person. I mean, a military attache normally is a spy. So it’s used to play with people without any kind of problem for it.


Ilvy: There you were, right there for this person. So that brings us to the third question. Maybe the answer is a camp like this, but I guess not, what is your dream story? if you could work on any story doesn’t even have to be realistic, what would it be?


Stefano: You know, it’s a story that has been done, indeed. It has been done by William Klein, and it’s about, it’s a documentary on Muhammad Ali. Honestly, if I had to pick up a story that I would love to do myself.


Ilvy: Yes, and why?


Stefano: Oh, because I think he’s one of the personality most important of the 20th century. And I don’t know, I mean, when you because I really love the guy. And I really had so much respect for him, for his life, for his choices. And I had the opportunity to spend a few months because it should reportage and the picture, but he also did a documentary on him. So he spent quite a lot of time with him. It would have been, I mean, the most surely, for me the most important human adventure that I could ever wait from this work. He did it first, William Klein is not the last. But yeah, I don’t have other dreams. Like, I don’t know. Even now. You know, they are shooting a documentary on Space Station, International Space Station. So no, I think this one is really my dream work that I would never done.


Ilvy: Yes, that yeah, that can’t be made now. But I understand why I can. Yeah, it would have been beautiful. I would have loved to see it from you, actually. Yea, to turn back time. And the last question, but people please feel free to ask anything in the Q&A. Oh, I see, there’s a lot of things in the chat, actually. But maybe it’s just love for you. I’m guessing so. Oh, Maggie says great question from Sarah. And then Sarah says, Thanks for the honest answers. Well, you have a lot of honest answers in this last 35 minutes. Thanks for that. Um, so the last question is, and I’ve asked Sarah this in her webinar and Maggie in hers as well. And I love the answers to this question. So I really hope you have some wisdom on this as well to share with us, but it is what would be your advice to your younger self? If you could give any advice now. I feel pressure from Ilvy sister. I knew it, I knew you were gonna say that. The answers were so lovely. I’m sure you can do the same. You’re a wise, a wise colleague.


Stefano: Yeah, thank you. Yeah. When I was young, probably I was too much focused on, I mean, it’s not by chance that I took it took me so much time to understand my nature. Because I think I was really obsessed by I mean, I approached I come close to this work. Because I wanted to, probably it was a way to realize myself, to escape from my family environment as well. And yes, too very soon to say, okay, I’m this thing. But I think when I was young, it was too much. I put too much emphasis.. English. Yeah. On that to be a knowledge and recognized by the other. Instead, understand the real reason that why I wanted to do that. And I think honestly, the advice would have been, think less to the other and think more about what really you are and what freely you are following in your life. I was obsessed a little bit about the others, and I waste a lot of energy, of course.


Ilvy: Do you mean by the others, it was recognition that you could be getting from your work? So it was very important you would work on the biggest stories like war photography, just to get that recognition. Is that what you meant?


Stefano: Yeah, yeah. I’m saying I mean it to be ambition, it’s okay for me because it’s a very difficult work we know it’s very individualistic sometimes. But this competition and this acknowledgement from my work as obsesses me so much that it has made me blind for quite a long time to understand the real reason that why I wanted to do that, and why I what I wanted to say, especially. So it was a handicap. Today, I really would advise the younger myself, just to don’t think about the acknowledgement on the other, but just focus on the reason why you choose this kind of life, because is a way of life in it.


Ilvy: And how, how do you? How do you focus on yourself? I mean, how do you do this? Just as an advice to people listening. How did you just switch your focus from being kind of outward, making things for recognition instead of turning inward? How did you learn about yourself, basically?


Stefano: Which is very important, indeed, because I think was Maggie saying that, in the end, the personal project has been a source of recognition and satisfaction, personal satisfaction, very important. So the answer is that, again, you don’t do the things for the others but you do the things for yourself. So you really have to understand the needs that move you drive you right? And every kind of external interest or judgment, or it could be really toxic for the research of the truth sometimes. So what I do is, I put myself plenty of, I ask myself plenty of questions. And if I found the real answer, and honest answer, I think I’m on the right way, then I’m also sure, because I put a lot of love on what I do that maybe some of the people outside will like what I do, but I don’t think and I don’t think also is normal, that everybody has to like your work, you have to like your work first, you have to be happy about what you do, that is the most important thing. And then let it go like, like a baby in the life, you know, and you will see if like kids, that there will be people that will be successful and other less, but at least you are very happy about all your children and you are in love with all your children, and that is the most important.


Ilvy: Hmm, that’s a beautiful way of saying this. The lovely way of explaining. Yeah, and it’s true. Sarah says that, she said, Ilvy, sadly, I think this only comes with age, this knowledge.


Stefano: Yeah, well, it’s it’s a game here, because obviously, I can’t advise my younger self. But yeah, that’s for sure you understand things with the time and with experience, as we have discussed so far. Yeah. Success, and also big failure, teach you a lot.


Ilvy: Very cool. Let me see in the chat before I move to the Q&A, because there’s also question coming in, in the Q&A. Maggie says I agree completely, very wise advice. Don’t worry about the others concentrate on your own work your reason for doing it. Don’t worry if people see the importance of it, send it out into the world and see what happens. Yeah, it’s beautiful. And Jessica Heine says yes, it does seem to only come with age and still it’s helpful for younger people to also hear this. I totally agree. I really needed this advice as well. That’s why I asked a sixth question even though I wasn’t allowed. So thanks for all this advice. So there’s a question in the Q&A from Siam Hazara, and you know, Siam, of course.


Stefano: We all know Siam.


Ilvy: We all know Siam, that’s very true. And the question is, is it the body of work? Is the body of work important to you, how does it function in relation to making a great individual photograph? And what comes first to you, the idea or the individual photograph?


Stefano: I would say the idea, the idea is the mortar that pushed you to make the research and then well, then the photograph, hopefully will come. But first of all, is the idea that move you to make a project.


Ilvy: And the other question, if it’s the body of work important to you, and how does it function in relation to making an individual photograph? It’s a difficult question, I’m glad you have to answer it.


Stefano: I guess that the question is, if it’s more important, the body work on the single picture, I guess. I do. I do only body of work, I would say because I, obviously I work less, and I focus more on project. So all my projects are bought your words that develop itself on the lens of maybe two years. So one year, two or three years, it depends. But where so the nice pictures are part of this body of work, my attention is about the body of work, the project, if is if this complete, is strong enough if it’s solid. So the nice picture is just one piece of the wall and it has to be like that.


Ilvy: Yeah, I agree. Ah, Maggie, I’m so happy because I wrote it on my little list here, Louvre, but she also gets comes back to it. Could you just revisit for a moment your experience with the Louvre? Have you been a curator or photo editor? I think you were photographing for them, right? And she says, What are the other photo related things that you have done besides taking photographs yourself? So let’s start with the Louvre.


The Louvre, the Louvre is a nice story, because it’s also the reason why I’m I choose France, for leave. I’m Italian. Ahh, yeah, you know but I grew up in Italy. And I would be always Italian. But there are some that things of my culture that I can’t stand and I discovered that we can leave also abroad and discover that things work differently in another country. So I was 23 when I went to knock the door of the Louvre Museum, which is one of the most important museum in the world. And I have to do authorization to make a reportage, because there were at the time, at that time, there were some important work of restoration of the museum. So it was a news, a world news, they granted me the authorization. So I worked for one week. And because these people when I say they are the responsible of the photo department of Louvre, which take all the documents of everything happens in the Louvre. So I went back to see them and because they were being they’re being very kind to me, very gentle people. And I show what I’ve done. And in the end, when the projection was finished, they asked me if I wanted to work for them, doing two or three reportage amounts, about the big stage of Louvre the you know, a Louvre is a like little town with a lot of stuff happening all the time in the big stage that you never imagine. And I worked for them for a couple of years. I never been so rich in my life, like in that time, because it was extremely well paid. And I you know, in an afternoon, I was very poor. And then I was very rich with a very beautiful job. And I was nobody I mean, and I thought going out from the Louvre. I thought if I wanted to if it was the same situation in Vatican Museum in Rome. Would that have been the same thing, and I knew the answer. That’s why I mean, I think here is still a very meritocratic country. That gives opportunity to young people that start with a lot of enthusiasm to do to do job. That’s love and, you know, I was really nobody and and still I remember that I and really grateful to discount to because it showed me that you don’t need to make politics just do very well, your job, and maybe some opportunity will come to you as well.


Ilvy: And those images, they are part of their own?


Stefano: Yeah, part of the archive. Oh, yeah. Yeah.


Ilvy: Yeah. And but it’s not, we can’t view these right? I mean, not on their website or this is just in their archives.


Stefano: Yeah. No, no. They are in the archive the rights of this picture of mine as well. Oh, that’s good. Yeah. And I have in my archive, but Well, we are talking about picture that I took, maybe, yes, 28-27 years ago, and some of them are nice. I use them for some lessons, for instance, to talk about my own my personal career. But well, they are very nice memory. But there are picture of that time.


Ilvy: Yeah, not that current anymore in your career. That kind of brings us to Maggie’s second question. Which is she asked what other photo related things have you done besides taking photographs? And like, you’ve now mentioned, you know, mentioned teaching, and you’re really good at it, I’ve seen you at workshops, you’re a great teacher and lecturer and looking at portfolios of all the students and, but are there any other things like that?


Stefano: Well, all my life is around photography. So for a long time, I just shoot picture, then I start to teach, then I start to study as well, photography. Recently, I spent three months in the beginning of the year, when the things, were not sure at all, if COVID would allow us to. So I prepare a cycle of conferences on the relation between between photography and some artistic discipline, like painting or cinema or literature as well. So I go back to study a lot. And I discovered that photography, I discover, first of all, that I’m really ignorant because there are certain relation, and but what one thing I just want to say to you what I what I am very happy to have the chance to go back to study, because we do not realize sometimes because we are taking in the you know, in the life of photographer, I know very well. And to stop sometimes and study what we do, I mean, the media that we used and the potentiality that in the relation in the history that photography has developed with many other discipline, it’s a great opportunity, first of all, to understand better our job, and also to develop other projects in more wide sense. So I do that, and I think it’s enough. I don’t know.


Ilvy: I think there’s one more, the films, documentary films, Sarah mentioned it now. We also mentioned it in the introduction.


Stefano: Yeah because the photography brings also to develop relation with other disciplines very close. And two years ago, three years ago, sorry, I had the opportunity to to shoot a documentary but was really on the side of my reportage in the end, like sometimes happen, it becomes more important the documentary than the reportage. But I yeah, I did also reportage and I participate to design and set up a books of photography. Like, one week ago, I was in Italy to print another book. So yeah, anything turn around photography in a way.


Ilvy: So when is this book happening?


Stefano: The book is coming out. It’s coming out. It’s right in here in Paris around the heart of November and it’s a self published book.


Ilvy: Ah, tell us a little bit more about the book. We have a few minutes. Can you?


Stefano: Okay, well..


Ilvy: If you like, yeah, everyone buy the book.


Stefano: In fact, I have asked to exhibit a work that I’ve done 20 years ago, it’s a work about pornography, it’s a long travel on the main, the most important country of this industry that produce 100% of the pornography in the world. So I choose for the continents that choose the most important countries, such as Japan, for Asia, U.S. for America, and Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany for Europe. The idea was also what scratch on the, you know, on this wall that you get. Pornography is like a black hole. Nobody everybody knows, but nobody wants to see what there is behind. Behind, it’s what I discovered. It’s very far from what you can imagine, and nothing positive, right? But I wanted to also use this representation of sexuality as a lens to discover a culture. So the results are very different from Japan and U.S. in the way how they represent their sexuality, which is very interesting as well. So I’ve been asked to make an exhibition exterior. And I thought, well, I did the book 20 years ago, my first book, it was about this issue. And this book, I was very young, and I was like a part of I mean, a very fragile part among a very strong part of Iran, because there was the editor that was a big chief. And also, the publisher was very, an I didn’t have the voice strong enough to say, no, this is what I wanted to show, right? And I decided to go back to my archive of two years and a half and reset completely the selection a makes, for the first time something very intimate, that represents myself in this in this trip, like Alice in the Wonderland. And I redesign the book with and I think it’s, well I’m very happy about that.


Ilvy: Amazing to be able to do this actually to yeah, go back in time and to kind of not redo it, but to make it more uniform.


Stefano: It’s a book with a totally different spirits as well. And it’s my first because of course I had to do myself is the first time that I self published something. So that’s is the story behind the book.


Ilvy: Beautiful. What will be the title? The same as the first one?


Stefano: Borderland Redux, or Redux.


Ilvy: Beautiful, lovely, beautiful. Everyone buy the book, like I said, and I see Maggie’s also saying buy the book. There’s one last question. Oh, let me see. There’s also one okay, we’re almost going around, round up. We have to because the time is running out. See we did make a full hour, Stefano. Maggie says, I love the Louvre story. I have several stories like this. And if you are enthusiastic and smart and not cocky, in capitals, lots of things can happen. These are some of the best photographic stories. Stefano is a great teacher and a wonderful photographer, very generous, reflective, humble and always fascinating. And it’s so true, really true, Stefano, you are amazing.


Thank you to you, to Maggie, to Sarah, because you are all a great support.


Ilvy: So before we wrap up, there’s one last question it will officially be the last one and it’s from Sian. And I think it’s a nice question to round this up as well. How do you see the future of photography in a digital age? Very broad but I wonder what that perspective is. Yeah, you’ve done your story on it was it I didn’t see that what which one was shot on iPhone only? iDyssey? Of course yeah, the name has it in it.


Stefano: Not afraid about photography. I think photography is going to leave for the next 200 years. So I’m afraid a little bit about the ability of the young generation to read a photograph because a photograph is what it is, is a point of view of, of a person filtered by her or his experience in the world. And I’m very happy that there are more and more people that are able to produce picture and photography Have this develop horizontal is not anymore. The pyrite, like the producer and the people that watch. So today in our day everybody do intake pictures, what I’m afraid is a little bit it’s about alphabetization of photography. Photography is a very sophisticated art and can express a lot of stuff, and has been very important for the history of the 20th century. But I’m afraid that all this is going to be lost by a very superficial reading of photography. That’s that’s my concern, it is the only one. Let’s remain optimist and say okay, there will be a part even little and teeny part of people which practice photography that will understand and will be able to read if photography in the right set in the right way. Stay optimistic.


Ilvy: Yeah, totally. Stay optimistic. I agree. I think that was quiet. This was an optimistic answer in a way. Yeah. Stay optimistic. Stefano. Thanks so much for your answers and your time.


Stefano: Pleasant pleasure. As always, like always, I wish you all the best for this meeting, because I think it’s very important as a discussion and all the issue that comes out, are very, very interesting.


Ilvy: Thank you. Thanks so much for being part of it. And the next one is let me think it’s with Anush Babajanyan, on the I think it’s yeah, it’s the 22nd of November. So please, everyone who was here now please check it out, and participate. Yeah, thanks for all the questions in the Q&A and all the love in the chat. There was a lot of, Go Stefano! Go Ilvy! So thanks for that as well. Thanks, everyone for being here and see you in the next one. Bye bye.


Stefano: Bye.

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