Sebastiao Salgado (Insight)

Globally-renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado needs little introduction, with his colossal projects capturing just about every corner of the planet.

As his thick book Genesis (an eight-year homage to the beauty left in a damaged and dying world) testifies, Salgado’s perseverance, dedication to nature and instinctive eye for a photograph are clear. But it is the humility with which he is able to photograph people – such as the Stone Age tribesmen of West Papua – that I feel stands out.

Working closely with these communities, Salgado establishes a mutual trust, which then enables him to photograph them in all manner of scenarios. His images reveal expressions of thoughtfulness, melancholia, humour and focus, highlighting our collective similarities as a species.

Certain images, with tribal leaders (perhaps surprisingly) aware of the implications of a photograph to their public image, confront the camera with tough, unwelcoming stares. Simultaneously, they display their symbols of status in the form of ivory and sculpture, giving evidence to their primitive differences.

Technically, Salgado’s black-and-white format means that his work often makes excellent use of framing, depth of tone and balance. However, an instinctive eye and years of dedication reveal his mastery in both composition and pragmatism.

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