photography by alessandro ciapanna


I throw myself passionately at life. And life often smiles back. When that happens, I like to have my camera ready.

I am Roman. Innately loud, generally mirthful and almost always jovial. Being bilingual, I can also be loud in the American version of the English language. I am at my very loudest, though, when speaking the most universal of languages: photography.

Fluent in several different photographic tongues, I speak color and I speak monochrome (iLingo for black-and-white). Of course I speak rectangular; almost all photographers do. On the other hand, I am one of the few who can also speak square. Square is a more stately, more stationary and a somehow more photographic language. Verbally, I have also been known to stammer in French and stutter in Spanish.

My camera compares what I place within the frame to something like half a million photos it has stored in its chippy brain. Big deal. In my own as-yet unchipped brain, there must be at least three  times that amount. Counting only the ones I shot myself. And, that figure keeps soaring. All those times I have pressed the shutter button matter. Each click has something to suggest regarding  the choice of subject, the framing, the focus, the exposure. Above all, they suggest the timing. And getting the timing right is by far the most essential factor in almost any kind of photography.

The subjects? Anything, really. The crowded streets in the largest, most untamable cities and the most desolate landscapes in the dustiest of deserts are easily among my favorite hangouts. And of course, I can and do photograph everything else in between. Street photography, however, is what really turns me on. Life’s little things unfolding in a day-to-day, apparently insignificant manner. And here I would like to pay a tribute to Robert Doisneau and to Henri Cartier-Bresson, to mention but two absolute masters of the trade. They have left some of the most significant pages in our contemporary history, for which we can never be grateful enough.

When you  can make (“take” is inaccurate, as it is a creative act) a photograph of a perfect stranger going about her or his daily life, possibly half way around the world; if you can do it in a way that is accurate, honest to truth; if you can do it in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and always, always in the utmost respect of the subject portrayed, then making photographs of anything else is easy. Fashion, portraiture, industrial photography, weddings. It’s all very easy, although sometimes boring, and it helps pays the bills.

Subject matter apart, what I really, really like, is a story well told. Quietly, wordlessly, eloquently – by imagery. This I have learned in my (oh, too many) long years sitting behind the desk as the director of fotografare, Italy’s (then) best photography magazine. Long years of being the man who shakes his head and breaks people’s hearts and ambitions by telling them that their photography is, frankly, crap. When those people are over twice your age, it’s not a fun job.

Thankfully, while still young enough and not yet completely cured of the traveller’s bug, I shook my head one good, last time. I looked around. I took a leap. No longer am I the man at the desk, choosing other people’s photographs and telling them how they should be shooting to begin with – I am now the man behind the camera.

In what is a perennially ongoing process, I have developed a sense of what works, photographically. I can sometimes perceive when a situation has the quid I like to call the “wow factor”. I have honed my ear to the sound of a ball bouncing or a child laughing. Because these are telltale signs that something wonderful is taking place. It is a miracle, happening, unscripted. And sometimes – if you develop and trust your serendipity – it’s happening right around the corner. It’s something universal, and fleeting. Therefore all the more wonderful. All the more worth capturing. This is what I most like to photograph. Some call it life.

Alessandro Ciapanna


109 Responses to “ABOUT”

  1. Gemma

    Alessandro! These are truly amazing. You have incredible talent

    So glad to see you’ve finally started your blog

    Well done and keep it coming


    • alessandro ciapanna

      Bit of a late reply, Gemma, isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving the very first, lovely comment on my blog. Hope all is well with you 🙂

  2. micaela

    Great Alessandro!
    I hope to see soon other photos on the road talking about you and your travel experiences.
    P.S. my “matriciano english” is always the same!!!

  3. Stuart Hyde - shpics

    Hey Alessandro..thanks for the ‘like’on my blog…….
    I’ve still got a few rolls of Tmax that I shoot on every now and again…..just for old times sake…
    Keep Bloggin’

    • alessandro ciapanna

      i started with t-max but soon moved to older, grainier tri-x. slightly overexposed and ever so slightly underdeveloped. lots of grays with deep blacks and crispy whites, but it’s been a while now…

      i only ‘like’ what i really like, so it is me who thanks you 🙂

      • Stuart Hyde - shpics

        Here in the UK you can still buy stock of both Tmax and TriX on the internet. I shot a roll of Ilford XP2 a short while ago pushed to 1600asa and that was cool. Unfortunately I no longer have a darkroom so have to get it commercially processed which takes the fun out of it a little.
        Still great to go back to film every now and again…

  4. ybawany

    Dear Alessandro,

    Your photos are phenomenal. I’m such a sucker for shadow photography and I loved your recent post.

    Appreciate you liking my pictures and taking the time out to visit my blog.

    Take care,

  5. outofsilence

    alessandro, che bello, che bene che fa leggere persone che si presentano così semplicemenet…e le cui foto rispecchiano questo amore per la semplicità (vedi gli alberi ammazzati a roma!).

  6. mykz78

    Hey, thanks for showing interest in one of my posts; I really appreciate it!

    I can see you are into black and white photos. I’m a sucker for monochrome but I haven’t really tried doing a black-and-white shoot. Maybe I’ll try that one of these days.

    Have a nice day.


  7. seekraz

    Hello Alessandro – thank you for visiting my blog yesterday…and for letting me know you were there. I do apprecitate your thoughtfulness in leaving a comment for me.

    I have enjoyed touring with you on your site…loved the shots from Nambia…all the red sand, tree skeletons, and shadows. Thank you for sharing your world. Scott 🙂

  8. babso2you

    Thank you for commenting on my post! Charcoal is my choice too but here in the Foothills the possibility of an ember getting loose would have serious consequences. Stuck with gas for a while! You take care and nice site you have here!

  9. moi du toi photography

    Ciao Alessandro! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Love your images, black and white is so powerful…

  10. cazbag

    Amazing photographs, thanks for sharing them. It’s great fun being on the road isn’t it? Sending aloha from Hawai’i

    • alessandro ciapanna

      fiztrainer dearest. i am truly flattered by your nomination. but i am really not a computer person. especially, i am not big on rules. so i’ve tried to figure out what getting an award entails, and realized that to be wp-correct (?) i would have to post this that and the other, and spend more time at the screen rather than chasing my camera around…

      please understand if i decline your nomination. but allow me to wallow in the grace of your exceptional compliments. you, darling, have made my day 😉

  11. notanda

    Great work. I love the way you take sets of photos with a theme. Thanks for liking my post.

    • alessandro ciapanna

      thank you dearly, picture-bandit. your nomination is a good as the award itself.

      however, to keep my blog simple and clean, i prefer to blog my photographs, and those only. so, thank you very much but no thank you. i really hope no offense will be taken as none is intended…

      namaste! 😉

  12. 2me4art

    Hi Alessandro, (I spelled it right this time) I just nominated you for the Sunshine award for your amazing blog. Because of your eye, I see Rome without lifting a finger! -Amy

    • alessandro ciapanna

      i thank you from the deepest of my heart, amy.

      the same happened last week, when picture-bandit nominated my blog (above), and i really haven’t changed my mind since then. i hope you understand and please, take no offense, as none at all is intended.

      again, thank you 🙂

  13. Paula

    I enjoyed reading this introduction a lot… something did not click right at first and it was obvioiusly your language and your Italian name, but then you explained it …. 😀 Written with a wit and style in an impecable language (thank goodness blogs do not transmit accents ;). Your second language is perfect, and your first (universal) one is inspiring. Nice to meet you Alessandro!

    • alessandro ciapanna

      how wonderful, paula. it is my pleasure to meet you.

      thank you for taking the time to comment. i will be following your witty blog too 🙂

      • Paula

        I’ve just seen your slide show 🙂 e posso te dire che sono enamorata de tue fotografie (did not use google translator or checked my dictionary/grammar… scusi – languages and endless chatter are my passion ;). Love your work, and will be back. Baci, Paula

  14. Emilio

    Good for you Alessandro and thank you for the visit and like. You have some wonderful work.

  15. backpackerina

    Beautiful photos! And quite an interesting story, I can easily relate to the issue of useless in day-to-day life spoonfed ‘knowledge’.

    • alessandro ciapanna

      Adventures, yes. Intense, yes. Many, no. The most time in the US for me was in California, where altogether – though on different occasions – i have spent about a year and a half.

      Thanks, Andrea! 🙂

      • adventurousandrea

        Some are better than none. 🙂

        That’s thrilling! My little sister is at university there right now. Did you get to travel elsewhere in the US?

        – Andi

    • alessandro ciapanna

      Thanks, Aan – much appreciated 🙂

    • alessandro ciapanna

      Thank you very much Michelle – much appreciated. Please understand if i prefer not to abide by all the rules that this entails. I’ll just bask in the glory of nomination.

      Again, thank you for such a flattering message 🙂

    • alessandro ciapanna

      Thank you so much for the nomination – i am truly flattered, Amiramelody.

      My lack of fondness towards all the rules that come along with the honor of an award, however, kinda make me rather want to leave it to a big thanks, and a virtual hug. No offense, just plain limited attention span (and computer time).

      Again, thank you dearly. 🙂

      • amiramelody

        Hey no worries about that and no offense is taken! It is a task to complete! I just wanted to reach out and recognize those who give me inspiration! I look forward to your future work!

  16. Doris

    In college some year ago in the 90’s I use Kodak’s T-max black and white film, oh do I remember those days, I miss the dark room. I think I am same way could not be in the corporate world it is boring I am a freelance graphic designer and love art very much. You have a great blog. Goto meravigliose un saluto Doris.

  17. photobycraig

    Love your images!

    T-Max was an awesome film! Especially for portraits!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and following!

  18. Evon Oon

    Your photographs are amazing, Alessandro. And I am humbled that a great photographer like you actually liked my photos.

  19. stan

    Thanks so much for stopping by and for liking ‘Sunlit Dancer’ – you have some wondreful images here yourself – thanks again – your support is greatly appreciated!

  20. jacquijay

    I discovered your blog for the first time today and have only scratched the surface … but I will come back another day to explore more …

    • alessandro ciapanna

      I hope you find what you see enjoyable. And please don’t hesitate to comment if you’d like to know a little more on any one particular image or photo essay. Thanks!

  21. Through My Eyes

    You have an inspiring blog Alessandro and no doubt much talent. I’m Italian/Australian and am heading to Rome for the first time in December. I’m looking forward to taking lots of photos while there for two weeks. I can’t wait and will use your blog to give me ideas. Ciao 🙂

    • alessandro ciapanna

      Thanks heaps! December is a longish way away, but if i’m here when you are, i’d be more than glad (heck, i’d be proud!) to walk you through some of the more classic spots of the city center… 😉

  22. jeanzimmerman

    I’ve been loving your work. Takes me to a different place, far from rural New York! And I enjoy the snappy captions as well. Nice to see a photographer with a sense of humor.

    • alessandro ciapanna

      Hey – a sense of humor goes a long way, much as does a smile. These are my real tools of the trade. The camera is just an accessory. Thanks for your kind words, Jean.

  23. Know-All

    Absolutely spot on! Agree absolutely..and very practical too when you say that portraiture, fashion, wedding photography help pay the bill…for an expensive interest like photography, that’s vital!

    • alessandro ciapanna

      I find people are more inclined to pay for a photograph of their house, their face, their creation or their product than they are of my favorite subjects: deserts, strangers, crazy places…

      Thanks, Know-All!

  24. ilargia64

    Good morning Alessandro!
    I must tell you I have not seen a lot of posts…In general I like to see one or two and then I go to the “About” page trying to feel something …Well! Yours is the most beautiful “About” page I have ever read!!! It transmits joy, hard work , search and passion above everything…Passion for life, passion for photography….So, here I will stay…

  25. Prasad

    Just happened to run into your blog. You have got a beautiful blog running here. Loved most of your photgraphs. Its very subtle . I guess I will be hanging around here a lot. 🙂

  26. neverclipmywings

    The way you describe your relation with photography is so pure and deep… This is the best About page in WordPress so far, and I’m happy to have found it. Do you still love in Italy?


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