I do what I think I should. It’s fantastic, I’ve got a voice inside that tells me all the time. To be creative you have to be deeply insecure. Of what are we secure of? To die one day is the only thing, everything else is optional.
That’s how I started my fashion career – after that Harper’s Bazaar in America saw my photos and that was it. At 25 I was rich, almost. It was like Blow-Up. I was working for the major magazines in the world already, French Elle, Italian and British Vogue, GQ and everyone else. That was in the early 70s.
I started at Benetton in 1981 and I said, ‘Listen Luciano Benetton, I don’t want an advertising agency, I don’t want marketing studies. I will do my work and you will say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you want to do something new, you can’t follow the rules.
In Europe we don’t have capital punishment, it’s such a primitive way to make justice. It’s always intrigued me.I photograph anything that interests me in the way I think is interesting; that’s my philosophy. I’m not interested in the aesthetic and beautiful. I think photography is the memory of humankind.
Many years ago somebody told me, ‘Don’t take my picture because you’ll steal my soul.’ That touched me because if you look at some portraits, you can see the soul. That’s what I’m looking for. I don’t care what they do. I look for people in moments where they are particularly alive.
Every photo is socially political. I mean, a miniskirt is a sociopolitical statement.
I live on a farm in Tuscany where my studio is. In front of me is the Mediterranean. I do my own olive oil, I do my own wine. I breed horses. I manage to do it all. I’ve always got time. Every day, I’m always working.
To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, the Phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commissions and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice, or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.