At Conveying photographic images with a powerful sense of humanism and social conscience, Sebastião Salgado has become one of the most respected photojournalists working today. He states, “My big hope is to aid and provoke a debate so that we can discuss the human condition looking from the point of view of displaced peoples around the world. My photographs are like a vector that links what is happening and gives the person who does not have the opportunity to go there, the possibility to look.”
Born in 1944 in Aimorés, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the sixth child and only boy in a family of eight children, the son of a cattle rancher, Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado earned his M.A. in economics in 1968 from the University of São Paulo and Vanderbilt University. In 1971, he completed his coursework for his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Paris and worked as an economist for the International Coffee Organization.
After borrowing his wife’s camera on a trip to Africa, he decided to pursue photography, and joined the Sygma photo agency followed by the Gamma agency. He then was elected to membership in the international cooperative, Magnum Photos. From his base in Paris, he covered large news events such as wars in Angola and the Spanish Sahara, the taking of Israeli hostages in Entebbe, and the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. He also began to pursue more personal and in-depth documentary projects.
His first book, “Other Americas,” about the poor in Latin America, was honored with the Prix de la Ville de Paris et Kodak. He has also published “Sahel: Man in Distress,” which captured the drought in northern Africa. Salgado has also documented worldwide manual labor, resulting in a book and exhibition titled “Workers,” which cemented his reputation as a premiere photojournalist. From 1993 to 1999, he documented the mass displacements of people, resulting in the internationally acclaimed “Migrations” and “The Children,” which was later exhibited at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
A world-renowned photographer and part of an honored tradition of “concerned photography,” Sebastião Salgado has been awarded virtually every major photographic prize and award in recognition of his accomplishments from institutions around the world.