The Photography Legends come back on the blog this week with Sebastiao Salgado, who has spent his life taking epic, mind-swarming photographs of gold mines, oil fields and genocide, to depict the situation of our world and what we do to the Earth
Salgado is known as one of the best photographers of all time and a Legend. He is maybe one of the last great photographers
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About the Artist
Sebastião Salgado was born in Brazil in 1944. He grew up on a farm in the state of Minas Gerais in southeast Brazil with his family and around seven sisters. Salgado originally pursued a career in economics graduating with a master degree from the University of São Paulo. After beginning his doctorate, he moved to London and worked as an economist for the International Coffee Organization.
Around the age of 26, he starts to develop an interest in photography. It didn’t take long to develop his skill and within several years he decided to pursue a second career as a photojournalist. In 1979 he joined Magnum Photos of which he was a member until starting his own agency in 1994 with his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado: Amazonas Images. They also co-founded the environmental education center, Institutio Terra that works on the restoration of Brazilian rainforests.
In 2004 his work shifted once again, this time to landscape and wildlife photography as he began his work on Genesis. Published in 2013, Genesis is a collection of images from some of the most remote parts of the world as Salgado aimed to capture a landscape that is completely untouched by humans.
Salgado is also known for his charitable work with organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. He is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Raise Global Awareness to Human Conditions & Wildlife
Salgado says “The human animal is a political animal” and his humanitarianism is unmistakable in his pictures of crises and endangered ways of life. Photography has taken him all over the world and has been his passport to see amazing things, people, and places.
With a photojournalistic, monochromatic style that combines complexity with a high sense of drama, the work of Sebastiao Salgado is dedicated to raising global awareness of conditions of both humans and wildlife and he has dedicated his life for this purpose for years.
He found a lot of influences in Lewis Hine, W Eugene Smith, and Walker Evans. Much like his heroes, he developed this style in black and white that found beauty in brutal subjects of poverty, hardship, and oppression of various cultures under the wake of industrialization to the native landscape.
His style is definitely Raw and dedicated to tell the Truth. You are punched in the stomach face to her. You can feel his soul and background in his photographs: His humanism, his economics degree and his childhood in the forest. “In this moment, you bring your history and your ideas to what is in front of you. That is a photograph.” Salgado said.
*Read on: Photography Legends: Mario Testino
He worked on two famous books. The first in 1986 was a 9-year study of rural cultures in Latin America titled “Other Americans”. In 1993 his seminal book Workers revealed the often harsh conditions of large-scale industrial sites including oil fields and commercial fisheries.
Other well-known photographs include a series in Africa as part of the Doctors Without Borders project. His most famous photographs were his depictions of gold miners in Serra Pelada.
For all of that, Salgado can be seen not as only a great photographer. But he is maybe the last great photographer...Working in black and white, telling deep truths on our world and what we did to it.
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