I discovered Sebastião Salgado in an article of a magazine while on a plane to Brazil last May.
He is a Brazilian photographer, living in Paris for a while now, and who has travelled in a lot of different countries for his projects.
The funny thing is since then, I’ve heard about him a lot, and there is currently an exhibition in Paris about his last project called Genesis.
In November, I went to the Salon de la Photo, a fair for photographers and photography enthusiasts. There, I bought a book, a testimony on his commitments in favour of a preserved nature:
Sebastião Salgado gew up in a farm in Aimorés, in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil).
He then moved to São Paulo to study economics. But he also discovered politics, joined leftist parties and became a radical activist.
At the time when Brasil was becoming more and more a dictatorship, activists such as Salgado only had 2 choices : to live in clandestiny, or to leave Brazil.
Salgado, along with his “best friend for life” – his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado – fled Brasil to go to France, where he continued to study economics. He traveled a lot, participated in numerous projects.
And one day, photography entered his life…
He left everything, and decided to become a photographer; he started with what was important for him and made social projects.
Mainly in the 1990’s, he traveled around the world, and through his pictures, was showing human life.
A trip to Rwanda was then an electroshock; he was, on a daily basis, surrounded by death. He will then said “I lost faith in our species”. Back to France, one doctor advised him to stop, saying “you saw so many deaths that you are dying”.
Sebastião Salgado, angry at photography, decided to stop and to go back where he was born.
He and his wife inherited his parents’s farm, but he was devastated to see that only 0.5% – as opposed to more than 50% when he was a kid – remain of rainforest. He said “the land was as dead as I was”.
He and his wife, with the help of the government and international companies, decided to build a new project: replant trees on his farm, and created the Instituto Terra, dedicated to a mission of reforestation, conservation and environmental education.
He then started to come back to photography, but his projects would not be about humans anymore, but about animals and nature.
In 2004, he started to work on Genesis, a series of landscapes and wildlife, presented in the exhibition in Paris – but also presented all around the world. These amazing pictures can also be found in this book below, that I was lucky to receive as a gift:
I will not show any pictures here, and he will leave anyone who are interested to read more about him, to go to his exhibitions, and so on…
“I looked through a lens and ended up abandoning everything else”