Who is Sebastião Salgado?

June 21, 2024


Sebastião Salgado is a renowned Brazilian documentary photographer and photojournalist known for his powerful and evocative black and white images that capture the human condition and the natural world. Born on February 8, 1944, in Aimorés, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Salgado has dedicated his career to documenting social issues, environmental crises, and the beauty of the planet. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, and he has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field of photography.

Early Life and Education

Salgado grew up on a farm in Brazil and studied economics before pursuing a career in photography. He began his professional career in the late 1960s as a photojournalist, covering major events in Latin America and Africa. His experiences in these regions would shape his approach to photography and inspire his later projects focused on social justice and environmental conservation.

Documentary Photography

Salgado’s documentary photography is characterized by its raw and emotive portrayal of human suffering and resilience. His images often depict the harsh realities of poverty, war, and displacement, but also capture moments of beauty and hope amidst adversity. Through his lens, Salgado seeks to raise awareness of pressing social issues and inspire action for positive change.

Genesis Project

One of Salgado’s most acclaimed projects is “Genesis,” a multi-year endeavor to document the world’s last remaining wilderness areas and indigenous cultures. Through stunning black and white images, Salgado showcases the beauty and fragility of our planet, urging viewers to appreciate and protect the natural world. The project has been exhibited in museums worldwide and published in a critically acclaimed book.

Humanitarian Work

In addition to his photography, Salgado is also known for his humanitarian efforts. Alongside his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, he founded the Instituto Terra, a non-profit organization dedicated to reforestation and environmental conservation in Brazil. The institute has planted millions of trees and restored thousands of hectares of degraded land, demonstrating Salgado’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

Awards and Recognition

Throughout his career, Salgado has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to photography and humanitarian work. He is a recipient of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, as well as the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. His work has been exhibited in major museums and galleries, cementing his legacy as one of the most influential photographers of our time.

Legacy and Influence

Salgado’s impact extends beyond the realm of photography, inspiring viewers and fellow artists to engage with pressing social and environmental issues. His images have sparked conversations about poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, prompting individuals and organizations to take action for positive change. Salgado’s legacy serves as a reminder of the power of art to effect meaningful social transformation.


In conclusion, Sebastião Salgado is a visionary photographer whose work transcends boundaries and challenges viewers to confront the realities of the world around them. Through his powerful images, he sheds light on the beauty and struggles of humanity, urging us to reflect on our place in the natural world and take action to protect it for future generations. Salgado’s legacy will continue to inspire and provoke thought for years to come.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.