by Marco Stefano Vitiello March. 28, 2009 3553 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 11 years, 3 months ago

Respect pour son travail !...

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
David Cardona 11 years, 3 months 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!

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Carol 11 years, 3 months ago

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

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Marco 11 years, 3 months ago

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

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Péter Somogyvári 11 years, 3 months ago

Great tribute.. !

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Tom Thompson 11 years, 3 months ago

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

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Mafalda Photography 11 years, 3 months ago

beautiful tribute!!!!!!!!!

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Emme8 11 years, 3 months ago

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

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Jumiella 11 years, 3 months ago

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

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Jennye 11 years, 3 months ago

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

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Maria 11 years, 3 months 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.

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
Finbarr 11 years, 3 months ago

wonderful post !!

11 years, 3 months ago Edited
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