Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

The Beauty Of Things Born Again: Sebastião Salgado

“I tell a little bit of my life to them, and they tell a little of theirs to me. The picture itself is just the tip of the iceberg.” – Sebastião Salgado
Have you ever encountered someone so fascinating or engaging that you can’t even begin to describe them? That is exactly how I felt when I first came across Sebastião Salgado. Considered to be one of the most influential photographers alive today, Salgado’s images are both powerful and compelling. But, it isn’t just his photography that makes him such an important figure; it is the way he has used his work to change the world.

From Faded+Blurred

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Salgado was born on a cattle ranch in Brazil in 1944. Growing up, he and his seven sisters led an idyllic life. Living amongst jaguars, crocodiles, and incredible birds; swimming, riding horses, and eating farm-fresh food, Salgado called it “a complete paradise”. When he was just 15 he had to leave this wonderful place in order to finish high school, not knowing he would not return to live there for another 30 years. He ended up at a university studying economics and marrying the love of his life Lélia Deluiz Wanick. He was able to complete his masters in São Paulo, but because of his left-leaning politics they had to leave Brazil in 1969 and ended up in Paris where both of them finished their studies. It was then that Salgado first picked up a camera. “For the first time, I looked through a lens and photography immediately started to invade my life,” he says. “I finished my PhD in economics, and become an economist, but the camera gave me ten times more pleasure.”

It was shortly after this that Salgado got a job in London for the International Coffee Organization as an economist. This job included a lot of traveling and he began to take his camera with him. The images began to take over his life. He realized this was where he belonged, that the camera was his language. He and his wife moved back to Paris in 1973 so he could begin his life as a photographer……….

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Ethiopia, 2008

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