Civic Imagination

Documenting an Ever-changing Humanity

This is the story of Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photojournalist of forty years. He is a photographer that has spent his entire career documenting different cultures during times of political, social, and economical conflicts - from famines in Africa, to the coal mines in Brazil. He captures the lives of living and struggling people all over the world, breathing character and depth into their personal and/or communal portraits. On many occasions, his photographs are the reason certain social issues are recognized and acknowledged by the Western world. Personally, what sets Salgado apart from many other ethnographic photographers is that the moments he chooses to captures and so intimate and raw - it bridges the audience with the subject. He has such a large array of work, one can easily spend hours browsing and being moved by every photo they encounter. 

I first discovered Salgado through his biographical documentary by Wim Wenders called “The Salt of the Earth”. I saw this film at Kendall Square Cinema in Boston. It was a truly magical and moving viewing experience since I was the only one in the cinema and absorbing every frame front-and-center. The documentary includes interviews with Salgado about his philosophies and ideas, his works displayed in extreme detail, and footage of him going through his creative process. This documentary made a huge impact on my creative goals because I can see a clear difference in mindset before and after I watched it. I’ve always been interested in capturing non-fictional stories and learning about different cultures; Salgado demonstrated to me that I could do both and have the potential to truly move people, as I was when I saw his work. Not many have seen this documentary, but whenever I engage in conversations about my inspirations or what my goals are, this documentary is one of the first things I mention. 

I feel like Salgado’s story can help inspire many aspiring creators because it illustrates how a certain art form can spark change and bring awareness to topics not previously recognized. For example, through his work in “Workers: Archaeology of the Industrial Age” he was able to share stories of workers around the world who didn’t necessarily have the platform to share and tell their stories. Salgado’s story really touches upon how we can use tools, like photography or filmmaking, to raise awareness and encourage change.

Picture of the famine in Africa -

photography, controversial, change

This page has tags: