by Marco Stefano Vitiello March. 28, 2009 3833 views

I lost a friend, a Master, a very special human being…

Gianni Giansanti, an internationally prominent photojournalist known for nearly three decades of images that captured Pope John Paul II on the bustling world stage and in contemplative private moments, died on Wednesday in Rome. He was 52.
In essence, Mr. Giansanti was John Paul’s unofficial official photographer, by all accounts one of the few outside photographers whom the Vatican routinely trusted. His photographs appeared regularly in newspapers and magazines around the world, many of the images distributed by the Sygma photo agency, for which Mr. Giansanti did much of his work. (The Vatican had the final word on which papal photos were released to the news media, Mr. Giansanti said in interviews.)
On Oct. 16, 1978, Mr. Giansanti was present in St. Peter’s Square when Karol Jozef Wojtyla, a Polish cardinal, was elected pope. For the next 27 years, until John Paul’s death in 2005, Mr. Giansanti followed him around the globe, accompanying him on scores of foreign trips; documenting his meetings with religious leaders, heads of state and the ordinary faithful; capturing him alone, kneeling in prayer in his private chapel; and photographing him in 1983 as he paid a visit of forgiveness to the prison cell of Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who had tried to assassinate the pope two years before.
Mr. Giansanti became a master of the stolen moment, using a silent shutter and available light to chronicle the pope as he moved through public and private spheres. Every one of the thousands of pictures of John Paul he took over the years was a candid shot: one does not tell the pontiff to stand in such and such a place and say “cheese.”
Gianni Giansanti was born in Rome in 1956; he began working as a freelance photographer in 1977. His career was assured the next year, when he captured a dramatic photograph of the body of Aldo Moro, the former Italian prime minister who had been kidnapped, shot and left in the trunk of a car by members of the Red Brigades, a terrorist group. The image was seen round the world.
Mr. Giansanti’s survivors include his wife, Anna, and two children, The Associated Press reported.
His many other photographs include images of Pope Benedict XVI, the writer Primo Levi, the pianist Maurizio Pollini, the fashion designer Valentino and a variety of world leaders, among them Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. He also photographed the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and the famine in Somalia in the early 1990s.
Mr. Giansanti had several books of photographs published, including “John Paul II, Portrait of a Pontiff” (1996), with text by Marco Tosatti; and “Vanishing Africa” (2004), translated by Richard Pierce.
Interviewers often asked Mr. Giansanti what made him return again and again to John Paul as a subject. Appearing on CNN in 1996, he answered the question in eloquent if not entirely grammatical English.
“I like and have a great respect for the pontiff,” Mr. Giansanti said. “I like in the pope the light that he have in the eyes.”

by Gianni Giansanti

Gianni Giansanti and John Paul II

by Gianni Giansanti

by Gianni Giansanti

by Gianni Giansanti

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12 Comments, Comments are turned OFF.
Nathalie Delmas 12 years ago

Respect pour son travail !...

12 years ago Edited
David Cardona 12 years ago

Sorry. Great report on a big loss. I like this story. You and your world are amazing dear and gentle friend. Thanks a lot for sharing!

12 years ago Edited
Carol 12 years ago

...so very sorry abour the loss of your friend...this is a beautiful post...as always

12 years ago Edited
Marco 12 years ago

I'm sorry...I didn't know u were friends...

12 years ago Edited
Péter Somogyvári 12 years ago

Great tribute.. !

12 years ago Edited
Thomas Thompson 12 years ago

Marco, I am so sorry you lost a good friend :( This is a wonderful Tribute to your dear friend

12 years ago Edited
Mafalda Photography 12 years ago

beautiful tribute!!!!!!!!!

12 years ago Edited
Emme8 12 years ago

I cannot believe it. I don't want to believe it.

12 years ago Edited
Jumiella 12 years ago

Great blog - tribute!
Really, Gianni Giansanti was prominent photojournalist!

12 years ago Edited
Jennye 12 years ago

A wonderful tribute to your friend!!
I'm so sorry for your loss Marco!!

12 years ago Edited
Maria 12 years ago

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. He will be missed by so many. You offered him a very nice tribute.

12 years ago Edited
Finbarr 12 years ago

wonderful post !!

12 years ago Edited
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