Sebastião Salgado, photographer

Sebastião Salgado, born in 1944 in Minas Gerais, Brazil, lives in Paris, France.

Having studied economics, Salgado began his career as a professional photographer in 1973 in Paris, working with photo agencies among which Magnum Photos until 1994, when he and Lélia Wanick Salgado founded Amazonas images, formed exclusively for his work. This structure is now their studio.

He travelled in over 100 countries for his photographic projects. Beyond press publications his work was presented in books such as Other Americas (1986), Sahel: l’homme en détresse (1986), Une Certaine Grâce (1990), Workers (1993), Terra (1997), Migrations and Portraits (2000), Africa (2007), Genesis (2013), The Scent of a Dream (2015), Kuwait, a desert on fire (2016) and Gold, Serra Pelada Gold Mine (2019). All these books have been edited, conceived and designed by Lélia Wanick Salgado.

Touring exhibitions of these works have been, and continue to be, presented in great museums and galleries throughout the world.

In 2013, came out the book De ma terre à la Terre (From my land to the planet), a narrative account of Salgado’s life and career, written by French journalist Isabelle Francq. In 2014, came out the documentary film The Salt of the earth, co-directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

Salgado is currently working on a photographic project about Brazil’s Amazon forest and its inhabitants, the indigenous communities; it aims to raise awareness of the threats they face from illegal logging, gold mining, dam building, cattle and soybean farming and, increasingly, from climate change.

Since the 1990’s, Lélia and Sebastião have worked together on the restoration of part of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais. In 1998 they succeeded in turning this land into a nature reserve and created the Instituto Terra. The Instituto is dedicated to a mission of reforestation, conservation, environmental education, scientific research and sustainable development.

Sebastião Salgado is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and among other distinctions, he was named an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the USA. He received numerous photographic prizes and prestigious honors, such as the Grand Prix National, Ministry of Culture, France ; the Príncipe de Asturias Award for Arts, Spain ; the Medal of Presidenza della Repubblica Italiana, International, Research Center Pio Manzù, Italy. He was named Comendador da Ordem do Rio Branco in Brazil, and Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture in France.

In 2016, Salgado was elected member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of Institut de France, and the same year, France named him Chevalier (Knight) de la Légion d’Honneur. In 2018, he was made Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Culturel by the Principality of Monaco. And this year 2019, he was elected Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, USA and honored with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Germany.

© Yann Arthus-Bertrand