Photographer Insight: Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado was born in Brazil on February 8th, 1944. He was the only boy off eight siblings and grew up in a farm in the country sides of Minas Gerais. He subsequently left for schooling and later to university where he studied Economics. 

In University, Salgado become very active in politics as well as the communist movement in Brazil. He soon left Brazil and travelled to France where he pursued his PhD in Economics, later working for the International Coffee Organization. 

He made a transition into photography and has since embarked on some of the most incredible projects which have brought him much recognition from the world over. He hasn't been without his critics though as he is commonly accused of making poverty seem artistic or beautiful. Others have criticized his techniques - going so far as to state that his work is a greater testament to printing techniques than style and composition - a criticism that is usually from the art photography community rather than documentary photography. 

Salgado's work often takes on thematic approaches with his most recent works, Genesis, having taken him 8 years to complete. 

His style is something that is widely discussed among the photographer community and as a matter of fact, he serves as an inspiration for the founder of the Montreal Photography Course. The depth, both in terms of tonality, as well as subject is carefully crafted, making use of spectacular textures to compliment a composition that leaves many of his fans breathless. It is true that his photographs also rely on carefully crafted darkroom techniques and his latest work was both sponsored and photographed by Canon - something that many film enthusiasts were surprised with.

Regardless, the consistency of his style, perspective, and underlying message are beautiful and serve a greater purpose. 

For those interested in learning more about him, there is a TED talk (link here) as well as several other sources on both youtube as well as the broader internet. 

All his books are a wonderful way to get immersed into the art of photography. You may find them in our Recommendations section.