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Iconic Photographers - Sebastião Salgado

By Editor  Peter Davidson
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 19th of April 2023



I don't suppose many will not have heard of our next iconic photographer, 
Sebastião Salgado. Personally, ever since I first saw his work on the miners in Brazil back in 1986, I was addicted to his social documentary style. I managed to be in the audience of one of his talks in the UK several years ago, and more recently to have viewed his work displayed at the Natural History Museum in London. It was a real pleasure and honour both to hear him talk and to see his work displayed in the 'flesh' so to speak. So much more powerful than viewing images on-line, his actual prints have a real power, something we tend to forget exists in this screen-age era of digital display. 


                                                                                                                Gold Mine 1986

Sebastião Salgado is a Brazilian photographer who has become one of the most acclaimed and respected photographers of our time. Salgado's images have been exhibited in some of the world's most prestigious museums and galleries, and his work has been published in books and magazines around the world. His work is known for its powerful social commentary, depicting the human condition in various parts of the world.

Salgado's early life and career
Born in 1944 in Aimorés, Brazil, Salgado originally studied economics before becoming a photographer. After completing his studies, he moved to Paris to work for the International Coffee Organization, but he soon abandoned his career in economics to pursue his true passion: photography.
Salgado's early work was focused on documenting the lives of the poor and marginalized in his native Brazil. He soon began to travel the world, capturing images of the human condition in various countries, including Ethiopia, Sudan, and Rwanda. His photographs were featured in major publications such as Time, Newsweek, and Life.


                                                                                                                         Kuwait, 1991


Salgado's style
Salgado's work is known for its stark black-and-white imagery, which often portrays his subjects in a powerful and emotionally charged way. His images often depict people in difficult circumstances, whether it be refugees fleeing war or workers in a Brazilian gold mine. Salgado's work is characterized by a strong sense of social commentary, as he seeks to shine a light on the challenges faced by people in various parts of the world.

One of the key aspects of Salgado's style is his use of light and shadow. His images are often dramatic and striking, with deep contrasts between light and dark areas. This helps to create a sense of drama and tension in his work, drawing the viewer into the scene and emphasizing the emotional impact of the subject matter.


                                                                                                       South Sandwich Islands, 2009


Salgado's achievements
Salgado's achievements as a photographer are numerous.  Including the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Grant in 1982. He was also named Photographer of the Year by the International Center of Photography in 1985.

In addition to his photography, Salgado has also been involved in a number of social and environmental causes. He and his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, founded the Instituto Terra, an organization focused on environmental restoration in Brazil. The organization has planted millions of trees in the Brazilian rainforest, helping to combat deforestation and restore damaged ecosystems.

Salgado has also been recognized for his humanitarian work. He was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2001, and in 2019 he was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to peace and social justice.


                                                                                                                Gold Mine 1986


Sebastião Salgado is a photographer whose work has had a significant impact on the world.
His images are powerful and emotive, offering a glimpse into the lives of people in various parts of the world. Through his work, Salgado has brought attention to important social and environmental issues, and his efforts have inspired countless individuals to take action and make a difference. His legacy as a photographer and humanitarian will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations to come.


                                                                                                                         Ethiopia 1984
                                                                                                                     Bombay 1985
                                                                                                                        Kuwait 1991
                                                                                                                        Gold Mine 1986
                                                                                                                   Gold Mine 1986
A master. What else ?....
Really impressive!
I think this is one of the best photographers of the 21st century...
Amzing I think this is one of the best photographers of the 21st century...
txules PRO
A master I ove, thanks for sharing his amazing work
Thanks Peter and Yvette for sharing this homage to Sebastião Salgado story with powerful & touching photos.
So touching . A great photographer . Thanks ,Peter.
Lovely photographs, informative article, thanks for sharing Peter
Thanks for this excellent article.
À travers ses photos, on perçoit l'âme de cette belle personne. Merci pour l'article et de continuer à partager ses œuvres.
We camera people need to learn from photographers like his and we do. We must move forward in our times and, like Salgado, show people the truth about the places where there is still injustice, poverty and violation of human rights. Respect...
Great article Peter. Thank you!
my favourite artist
For me, one of the greatest photographers in the world. Thanks for this excellent article.
One of my favorites photographers and perhaps the one give me love of black and white photography À découvrir sur Netflix : "Le sel de la terre"
A tremendous recognition for such an emotive and iconic human and photographer, his photography actually speaks all languages. Thank you Yvette.
I'm glad you remember Salgado's works. I don't think you can do anything equal, except to cherish the values of humanity that he transmits. Fortunately there are many other photographers who do this. Thank you all.
Extraordinario. Un ejemplo a seguir
Iconic among the very iconic photographers! A master and great example as a human being. I have seen many of his exhibitions and it is always a great emotional encounter. Thank you for this great article!
Great article yet again Peter I was also blown away but seeing his exhibition in Singapore powerful emotive photography.