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An Empty Valley

by Ettore Moni

Featured today on of the land & us is Italian documentary photographer Ettore Moni and his project An Empty Valley. Ettore’s work immediately hooked us with the fact that it was all shot on large-format.

We love film photography, and it’s a pleasure to see beautiful large-format work, and Ettore’s project absolutely lends itself to the huge detail in large-format photography.

In this respect, it is a great shame that we are unable to see An Empty Valley in real life. Read on to find out more about wondrous Ettore’s project on this Italian-based marble quarry, which sometimes seems like it’s part of a different world.


My name is Ettore, I live in Italy – in Parma, a city halfway between Milan and Bologna. I lived in New York City for a year, and when I was there I was a fashion photographer. It was hard to find work, but I soon I started working for modelling agencies and later for Italian magazines doing editorial work. I now mostly practice documentary photography.

I became interested in photography from an early age, when by chance a friend of my father took me on a tour around a house, and he gave me a small camera which I used to take black and white film photographs. I was really impressed when I saw the developed photographs, and from that day I began to take more pictures. i then attended the Institute of Art in my town, studying Graphic Design, but I carried on with my photography, which was all self-taught at this point.


Everything inspires me. I’m a collector of photography books and I have collected many books over the years. I have the first editions of one of Avedon’s books, Weegee’s 1945 book Naked City, Irving Penn’s and many others, but recently I’ve been following photographers such as Nadav Kander, Pieter Hugo, Burtinsky, Ghirri and Basilico.

One of my favourite photography books is Anthony Hernandez’s Waiting, Sitting, Fishing, And Some Automobiles. It’s hard to choose, though. I like all photography, and among new photographers there is also so much talent. Additionally, I like to read a lot, watch films and I like to travel. I think this is essential for those who want to work with documentary. You have to look around and discover the world with different eyes.


The story behind the project is my story. I lived in this valley for two years but I continue to visit even now, and I discover new things every time. I made many friendships, and I accidentally discovered this marble quarry that’s the focus of this project while I was researching a story on the Apuan Alps. 


I believe that showing the people complete’s the project; without them, the project would not have the same strength. The people portrayed are quarrymen, sculptors and herders living on the site; men with many stories, who are grateful to have them told.

The entire project was shot on 5×4. I love this method of shooting. It relaxes me and is a way to get more in tune with your environment as a photography. It takes time and thought.


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