On a very fortuitous day in 1970, 26-year-old Sebastião Salgado held a camera for the first time. From that day onward—though it took years of hard work before he had the experience to earn his living as a photographer—the camera became his tool for interacting with the world. Salgado, who “always preferred the chiaroscuro palette of black-and-white images,” shot very little color in his early career before giving it up completely. The Brazilian began life as a professional photographer in Paris in 1973 and subsequently worked with the Sygma, Gamma, and Magnum Photos agencies. In 1994 he and his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado created Amazonas Images, which handles his work exclusively.
Salgado’s photographic projects have been featured in many exhibitions as well as anthologies and books; some titles include Other Americas (1986), Sahel, L'Homme en détresse (1986), Terra (1997), The Children (2000), and Africa (2007). Salgado has a deep love and respect for nature, but is also sensitive to the ways in which human beings are affected by their often-devastating socio-economic conditions. Of the myriad works Salgado has produced in his acclaimed career, three long-term projects stand out: Workers (1993), documenting the vanishing way of life of manual laborers across the world, Migrations (2000), a tribute to mass migration driven by hunger, natural disasters, environmental degradation, and demographic pressure, and the TASCHEN opus, GENESIS, the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts, oceans, animals, and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society. Over 30 trips—traveled by foot, light aircraft, boats, canoes, and even balloons, through extreme heat and cold and in sometimes dangerous conditions—Salgado created a collection of images showing us truly wondrous nature, animals, and indigenous peoples in breathtaking beauty. The GENESIS project, along with the Salgados’s Instituto Terra, are dedicated to showing the beauty of our planet, reversing the damage done to it, and preserving it for the future.