Ferdinando Scianna was born in Bagheria, Sicily, in 1943.
He attended the faculty of Letters and Philosophy at the University of Palermo which he left in 1966.

In 1963 he met Leonardo Sciascia with whom, at the age of 21, he published a book regarding the religious festivals in Sicily, the first of a long series which they together dedicated to their native land. The volume won the Nadar award.
He moved to Milan where since 1967 he worked for the weekly magazine L’Europeo as a press photographer and then as a foreign correspondent in Paris where he lived for ten years.
In Paris he met Henri Cartier-Bresson who introduced him to Magnum agency. Ferdinando Scianna became a member in 1982.
Since 1987 he shared his works among reportages and fashion/adverting shooting gaining an international success.
For many years he has carried out his activity as a “writer of photography” publishing many articles either in Italy and in france.
Among all his publications: Feste Religiose in Sicilia, Bari, 1965. Il Glorioso Alberto, Milano, 1971. La Villa dei Mostri, Torino, 1977. Les Siciliens, Parigi, 1977. Kami, Milano,1988. Le forme del Caos, Udine 1988. Ore di Spagna, Messina, 1989. Leonardo Sciascia, Milano 1989. Marpessa, Un Racconto, Milano, 1993. Altrove, reportage di moda, Milano, 1995. Viaggio a Lourdes, Milano,1996. Dormire, Forse Sognare, Udine, 1997. Jorge Luis Borges, Milano, 1999. Ignazio Buttitta, Milano, 1999. Altre Forme del Caos, Roma, 2000. Ninos del Mundo, La Coruna, 2000. Sicilia Ricordata, Milano, 2001. Quelli di Bagheria, Lugano 2002, Bibliografia dell’Istante, Napoli, 2003, Ferdinando Scianna, Fotografie 1963-2006, Lucca, 2006, Specchio delle mie brame, Milano, 2006.