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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Monday, July 11, 2011

Photographer Profile ~ Sebastião Salgado

A committed photojournalist, Salgado is one of the most outstanding and versatile of contemporary photographers. A humanist who conveys his feelings with powerful, beautiful photographs, he has revealed a world of human despair from the miserable conditions endured by Brazilian coal miners to African famine victims to oil well firefighters in Kuwaiti oil fields.

A trained economist with advanced degrees in the field, he first became interested in photography while touring Africa as an economic advisor in 1970. In 1973 he quit his job to travel to Africa with his wife to document famine there. In 1974 he joined the Sygma agency, and then the Gamma agency (1975 1979). In 1979 he was invited to join Magnum. Two years later he was in the doorway of the Washington Hilton taking pictures when President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. He left Magnum in 1994 and with his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado formed his own agency, Amazonas Images, in Paris to represent his work.

Salgado, who lives in Paris, has won various awards, including the W. Eugene Smith Award in 1982 for his essay and series Ethiopian Famine. In 1985 he won the Oskar Barnack Award. He was named Photographic journalist of the Year by the International Center of Photography in 1986 and received the Hasselblad Award in 1989. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States.

Via The Photography Encyclopedia and other sources

"When I was starting out, when I put aside my career as an economist. I looked at every book, went to every show, did my first stories, developed my first films. A fabulous time."

Inspirations: "Bill Brandt was an incredible photographer. The many different studies he did in England - miners, nudes, life during the second world war - were important to me."

"When I was just starting out, I met Cartier-Bresson. He wasn’t young in age but, in his mind, he was the youngest person I’d ever met. He told me it was necessary to trust my instincts, be inside my work, and set aside my ego. In the end, my photography turned out very different to his, but I believe we were coming from the same place."

Sebastião Salgado

“Workers Emerging From A Coal Mine. Dhanbad, Bihar State, India.” 1989.

                                                               Serra Pelada gold mine
Serra Pelada gold mine 

Serra Pelada gold mine , Brazil

Dispute between Serra Pelada gold mine workers and military police

Benako Camp, Tanzania, 1994

 Canadian firefighters in Kuwait battle to seal an oil well.

"This photograph comes from a series of pictures I made with a group of specialist firefighters from Canada, who were trying to deal with a blazing oil well. Putting out the fire took days and days, but that wasn’t the biggest problem, even though they then had to light another smaller fire, so that a lake of oil did not accumulate around them. It was capping the well, for these guys, that was hell. Saddam Hussein’s men had used a large number of explosives, leaving the wellhead badly deformed. Because Kuwait is at the lowest point of a vast Middle Eastern oil field, the pressure was enormous, pushing the oil out with a noise like a 747′s engines. Everything was completely black. You couldn’t hear anyone speak.
It was an incredibly dangerous place to work, because the oil was very light, much like the fuel in cars – so it catches fire very quickly, and its smell is very strong. At one point, one of the Canadians got too close, inhaled too much gas, and fell down unconscious. Meanwhile, as these guys worked away with their tools and instruments, they knew that if they touched metal against metal hard enough to create a spark, a fire would have engulfed them." ~ Salgado

"Working in the middle of all this was extraordinary. One of my lenses got warped by the heat, so I was left with just two: a 35mm and a 60mm. This obliged me to stay very close to these guys the whole time. As a result, I was covered in oil, and felt so involved with the danger, the environment, the strange beauty and the hard work that was happening in front of me. The only way I could keep going was to carry a two-litre tank of petrol and a roll of kitchen paper inside my photo bag. I would put some petrol on the kitchen roll, clean my hands, the lens and the back of the camera, then go in again. Eventually, I felt part of the team, working with them for many days. We all became very close"
~ Salgado

 Canadian firefighter.
'Sometimes they sat down and cried' ~ Salgado


1 comment:

  1. These are unbelievable images from a Brazilian genius that is artist, humanitarian, and environmentalist. Thank you Mr. Salgado for the great contributions you have made and continue to present through your photography and activism. Bravo.