This man has a special mission and he is completing it with his photography.
Perhaps you are familiar with his work as a documentary photographer and his book “Workers”.
You may have just come to know him through his most recent work, “Africa”
The intensity of the images included in these tomes is matched by the passion, in person, for the worldly causes he supports.
The title of another one of his books “Migration:Humanity in Transition” seemed to sum things up as his mission to try to reverse the physical trends and practices destroying our earth, have been illustrated with the images herein, as you are taken on an even deeper emotional level, looking at the prospect of hope and diversity on our planet, while showing us the shocking realities.
This passionate master photographer, a former economist, has presented to the world a vision both beautiful, yet coupled with a an underlined warning. How do we prevent the loss, correct the mistakes, returning the world to it’s proper order ? Or perhaps is this an order we are destined to carry out? We hope not.
The body of work he shared last night was not judgmental or scolding, but rather a celebration of the lands beauty and the cultures that inhabit it. The quest he is on, is the preservation of the world he knows, and the respect for the cultures he encounters.
Quite honestly I’m not a fan of landscapes but Mr. Salgado has transformed these special places with his lens into photographs, that draws you into a multi layered, complex engagement of a static place, an infuses them with an organic life that assures you of their evolving energy. And why you want to preserve that.
In a lecture last night at the Hammer Museum, he shared a 20 min. slide show of the first in a 32 part series entitled “Genesis” where 100 images have been selected from his body of work, and accompanied by music composed by Jonathan Elias. It is currently only available when he lectures, but he travels the world, so seek him out.
The head of public programs at the Hammer Museum, Claudia Bestor and her team, were as happy as the massive crowds, to have secured the Salgado lecture. Well done. And free.
Of course the stark realities from his worker series, have created an intrinsic beauty while at the same time, pointing out the horrible conditions in which these people toil. When you see the now famous images of the mine workers, covering the hills like ants, blending into the land with a graceful design, yet a disturbing reality, you are powerfully seduced. You love the photograph, but how can these people be treated like this?
Surprisingly, there were not many images from that series included in last nights presentation.
His partner in life, his wife Leila, is the perfect compliment to his shooting.
She selects 100 images at a time to work with and from that exhibits, books, presentations are created. The slide show consisted of all horizontal images, and only enhanced the unconscious perception of the group as single piece.
The Genesis project will be approx. 3000 images at it’s completion, so be expecting a multitude of ways to experience them.
On a more technical front, Sebastiao Salgado spoke about film vs. digital. He no longer shoots with film as the reasons to go digital mounted up.
The silver in current medium format films, are currently at levels that 35mm was 25 years ago.
The 600 rolls of 220 he carried on shoots weighed about 60 lbs.
After 9/11 the security checkpoint that he goes through with exposed film (he told us 7 on the last trip) has affected the grain and contrast of the exposed film.
Plus there was the inevitable fight at each checkpoint to hand check the film. His assistant almost quit on his last trip from the constant battles.
So now it’s a Canon DSLR for him. 21 megapixels strong. But he is also looking at that new LeicaS2 with 37 megapixels.
And his “film”? about 1.5 lbs of cards.
Here is a small video
It’s a very long, so be aware.
Plus you can check out a multi-part shorter documentary on him, here.
The charity he and his wife have started to preserve and restore the Brazilian Rain forests is called Instituto Terra.