In front, a glazed ceramic hand by [Pietro] Melandri, a very famous, special ceramicist before and after the [Second World] War. My father and mother divorced when I was 2, and only two things lasted from the marriage: One is me and one is this little hand. On the left, a first edition of photographer Robert Frank’s Les Américains. At the London College of Printing I had an American friend who one day said, ‘I’ve seen this fantastic book, but it’s not out yet in the States.’ It’s worth a lot of money now, but I would never give it up because it represents a moment of my photographic education. The pictures are still shocking 60 years later. In the back, a children’s garden chair my wife [Annette Klein] and I found at a flea market. She’s a total collector. In the middle, the vase is made by Ettore Sottsass, an Italian architect. I was staying in Milan in the ’60s, and I was very friendly with him and his wife [Fernanda Pivano], who was the translator of most American Beat Generation writers. The vase belonged to this couple; they were always inviting lots of strange people over, like [Jack] Kerouac. The candlesticks were from my grandmother’s house in Fermo [Italy]. She had a beautiful house. They’re from 1805, 1810, something like this. In the front right, my favorite lens, for an 11×14 film camera, which I photographed with until three years ago. The other [Rodenstock 50mm] lens is modern—for a medium-format digital camera, the camera I used to take this picture. When pressing the shutter, I always look at the subject. People are more at ease. Looking inside [the camera] is always shady, like you’re hiding something. The lemons, roses and wisteria are from my garden, luckily in full bloom, even during the virus. The table on which this is all shot was made by my grandfather with green marble from Châtillon [in Italy’s Aosta Valley]. Around the table, plastic chairs from Edra, from an architect called Jacopo Foggini. I like the old and very simple but also something modern.

— As told to Cody Delistraty

Cody Delistraty, Massimo Vitali. The fine-art photographer shares a few of his favorite things in The Wall Street Journal Magazine, June-July 2020, p. 96.