Sebastião Salgado Brazilian, 1944-
One of the most important figures in contemporary documentary photography, Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was born and raised in the provincial town of Aimores, Minas Gerais, and educated in economics at São Paulo University. He bought his first camera, a Pentax, in 1970 while completing his doctorate in agricultural economy at the Sorbonne in Paris. One year later, while working for the International Coffee Organization, Salgado turned seriously to social photography. Throughout his career he has maintained an allegiance to the proletariat and a fundamental hope for humanity.
Salgado's epic photographs, often centered on the struggles of people laboring in traditional and fast-disappearing industrial societies, typify the sort of heroic reportage that emerged between the two world wars. His most well-known subjects include the famine in Nigeria and Ethiopia (1973-74), the struggle for independence in Angola (1975-76), the peasant movement in Brazil (1980), and a series on refugees (1993-94). He has also completed other projects in Australia, Central America, and South America.
Salgado has been affiliated with most of the major news agencies, including sygma (1974), gamma (1975-79), and magnum (1979), and has received numerous awards, among them the W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanitarian Photography from the French Ministry of Culture (1982), the World Press Photo Award, Holland (1985), the Photojournalist of the Year Award from the International Center of Photography, New York (1986, 1988), the Oscar Barnack Award (1985, 1992), and the Paris-Match Gold Award (1993). Several of his books, Sahel: L'Homme en Détresse (Sahel: Man in Distress, 1986), An Uncertain Grace (1990), and Workers (1993), have also been honored. His other publications include Other Americas (1986), Sahel: El Fin del Camino (Sahel: The End of the Road, 1988), Les Cheminots (The Railwaymen, 1989), The Best Photos/As Melhores Fotos (1992), and Photopoche (1993). Salgado lives in Paris. A.W.