Scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) is an optical microscopy whose resolution is not bound to the diffraction limit. It provides chemical information based upon spectral, polarization and/or fluorescence contrast images. Details as small as 20 nm can be recognized. Photophysical and photochemical effects can be studied with SNOM on a similar scale. This article reviews a good deal of the experimental and theoretical work on SNOM in Switzerland.