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Article: Life, land and photography:
Through Salgado's eyes

La vita, la terra e la fotografia: <br>Con gli occhi di Salgado

Life, land and photography:
Through Salgado's eyes

Photography is an even stronger writing because it can be read anywhere in the world without translation.”

Generally, any form of excess can be traced back to the seed of human desire. Thus, before photography was transformed into excessive "aesthetic consumerism" and long before the narcissistic era of the selfie , there existed an almost miraculous medium that responded to a simple yet fundamental human need: the desire to be observed, and in be observed, understood. And this is exactly what Sebastião Salgado's photography conveys. Looking at one of his photos doesn't just mean meeting someone else, but also meeting yourself. It means experiencing human dignity, understanding what it means to be a woman, a man, a child. Sebastião probably has a deep love for the people he photographs. And observing his shots one wonders how the value of a person is measured. Because, by exploring these works, we understand that the value of a man is directly proportional to the ability to use what he has to touch the heart of his fellow man. This is perhaps why he is currently considered by many to be the greatest photojournalist in the world. As with the French journalist Isabelle Francq, who with disarming elegance and simplicity, collected in a book, Dalla mia Terra alla Terra , the testimonies and life of the Brazilian photographer, exposing his beliefs and sharing his emotions. We discover his talent as a narrator and the authenticity of a man who knows how to combine activism and professionalism, talent and generosity.

“In the end, Earth gave us a magnificent lesson in humanity. By discovering my planet, I discovered myself and understood that we are part of the same whole – the Earth system.”

A book that retraces the journey of his most famous reportages, but also the stories behind some of the photos that have become an emblem and distinctive feature of his technique. A witness to the modern era, with its black and white powerful portraits that tell of daily lives and the last of the Earth, workers or refugees, deserts and forests, distant countries and territories of immense beauty but also profound injustices.

“I have contemplated our land from the highest peaks to the deepest abysses: I have been everywhere. I discovered the mineral, vegetable and animal part and then, I was able to see us human beings as we were at the beginning of humanity. A very comforting contemplation, because the humanity of the origins is very strong, particularly rich in something that we then lost by becoming urban: our instinct.”

Salgado was born in 1944 in Aimorés, Brazil. At the end of the 1960s he moved first to Paris and then to London, where he worked as an economist for the International Coffee Organization. In 1973 he returned with his wife to Paris to pursue a career as a photographer. From that moment on he will travel to more than 100 countries for his photography projects. It will first deal with the Indians and farmers of Latin America, then with the famine in Africa in the mid-1980s. He will publish enormously successful books such as The Hand of Man , On the Way and Portraits of Children on the Way . Until 2003 when he began working on the Genesi project, which would occupy him for the next eight years with the aim of telling the story of a planet to be safeguarded: a photographic journey made up of over two hundred images of worlds in which nature, animals and living beings still live in balance with the environment: from the tropical forests of the Amazon, Congo and Indonesia to the glaciers of Antarctica, from the taiga of Alaska to the deserts of America and Africa up to the mountains of Chile and Siberia. But his particular sensitivity to issues related to the protection of the planet began many years earlier, in 1990, when, he says with emotion, together with his wife and life partner Léila, a great dream came true which would later become an example for governments and associations : the birth of the Instituto Terra , an environmental project to restore the forest of the Brazilian Atlantic strip, to which a large part of the income from the work and the sale of prints from the collections is destined.

Finally, it teaches us, in an almost poetic way, to acquire an alternative vision of the world compared to the one we have as "normal". Observing the world from another perspective allows you to reach another level of perception: of life, of society and of reality in general.


In this book you feel (and see) life in the eyes of men, in their hands, in the shell of a turtle, in the wood of a tree. You feel that life all comes from there: from nature. And that we are all together here: on Earth. We should remember this more often.

“My photography is not a form of militancy, it is not a profession. It's my life. I love photography, I love taking pictures, playing with frames and light. I love living with people, observing communities and now also animals, trees, stones. For me photography is all of this and I can't say that those that take me around to see the world are rational decisions. It is a need that comes from deep within me. It is the desire to photograph that continually pushes me to start again. To go and see elsewhere. To always create new images."

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