A photographer should probably not post other photographers’ images on their website. Invariably comparisons will be made. On the other hand some photographers’ work is so astonishing, so breathtaking, so monumental that it must be shared. Thus I bring you Sebatião Salgado.
I first learned of Salgado when a film called Salt of the Earth was shown here in Santa Fe. It is not to be confused
with another classic film of the same name (although you might want to check it out as it has New Mexican historical roots and a powerful social message.) This Salt of the Earth is basically a big screen slide show of Salgado’s images narrated by him and put in the context of his life and philosophy. I was fascinated by both and have an enduring respect and perhaps even love for this man. I will include here a few of his images to tempt you and links to let you find more.
Salgado, who is Brazilian, was for many years a photojournalist documenting the catastrophes of the world: mass migrations, genocide, exploitation of workers, neglected peoples. Each project was years in the making and was published in book form. His images, as you see here, are not mere documentations but exquisite evocations of the spirit of the events. Perhaps too evocative because, after about 30 years, the effort nearly killed him. In this (17 minute) TED talk he tells his story.
His camera sat idle for several years, but then Slagado embarked on a new project, the celebration of the earth and its indigenous peoples, where they still exist. The new images are as exuberant and full of hope as the earlier ones were poignant and sobering.
A fitting tribute to this new work can be found here.