Photo of the Day

Burning oil wells in Kuwait, 1991. Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Burning oil wells in Kuwait, 1991.
Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Sebastião Salgado

Salgado is a photojournalist who seeks out the most moving, unsettling, perspective-shifting images of life on Earth. From his mind-swarming images of the Serra Pelada gold mine to his most recent epic labour Genesis, which documents the last pockets of undamaged nature and unmodernised peoples on Earth, Salgado shows secrets from remote places: things you thought were lost, crimes you never imagined.

Salgado is not just a great photographer. He may well be the last great photographer – at least in the classic, humane tradition, working in black and white, telling profound truths. You can leaf through any of Salgado’s books and every few pages be pulled up by a shot that seems like one of the best photographs ever taken.

Looking at Salgado’s most memorable pictures – not least his hellish scenes of the blazing oil wells – you are punched in the stomach by reality. Special effects can create all kinds of cheap magic. Yet Salgado shows raw, real events that outdo digital fantasy. That shocking, sensational, or utterly poetic moment of truth is what Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment”. How does he catch them? To get great shots, he says, you “need a lot of time”. You have to put yourself where things are going to happen, and get into the flow of events, the mood of people. “You know where you’ll go, but you don’t know what you will bring back.” When the subject does suddenly appear, you have to be ready – and fast. “Photography is one 250th of a second,” says Salgado. And so much can go wrong. “There are a lot of variables. There must be light. There must be power. There must be personality if it’s a portrait.”

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The opencast mine at Serra Pelada, Brazil, 1986. Photograph: Sebastião Salgado

Elephant in Kafue National Park, Zambia, 2010. Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Elephant in Kafue National Park, Zambia, 2010.
Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Woman on the Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, 2011. Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures

Woman on the Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, 2011. Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures

Antarctica, 2005. Photograph: Sebastião Salgado

Antarctica, 2005. Photograph: Sebastião Salgado

Sebastião Salgado: my adventures at the ends of the Earth | Art and …

Accueil – Sebastiao Salgado


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