Packshot People Blog

Sebastião Salgado

Posted by Ryan Watts on 12/04/2012

Walk into a bookshop, head for the photographic section, and pick up any introduction to photography. You'll only need to flick through it for a few seconds before you discover portraits of various indigenous populations, or portraits of coffee plantation owners, or workers in rice fields. This is familiar territory for many documentary photographers.

As fascinating as these portraits can be, though, they can occasionally feel repetitive, particularly when a lack of imagination, or a lack of a unique perspective, is apparent. And these shortcomings can become achingly apparent in comparison with photographs which do show those qualities.

Take Sebastião Salgado. Salgado does exhibit imagination and unique perspective. He finds atmosphere where other photographers find mere novelty, and he finds drama where other photographers find only detail. The combination of his composition, his preparedness to go the extra distance and his ability to put his subjects - no matter who they may be - at ease are enough to make many professionals in his field look like beginners. Visit his website and look through the 'coffee' portfolio within the 'essays' section. Salgado manages to exhibit his subjects' urgency in addition to their hard efforts. No mean feat in a still image.

Another significant measure of Salgado's quality is the sheer diversity of his work. He captures the natural environment with an impeccable sense of timing and attention to detail. All with an appearance of simplicity which belies his effort. Look through the 'Antarctica' and 'whales' portfolios within the 'Genesis' section of his website. Influential, inspirational material. And stunning too.

Not bad, you might agree, for an economics graduate.


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