Salgado was a highly intelligent person, gaining a Phd in economics that would have given him a handsome salary. Instead of this path he chose the world of photojournalism, to his love of photography and its use to document the poor and unfortunate of the world. Coming from Brazil, a poor country in itself would have given Salgado a compassionate understanding of what it is like to be in such a position. As Marz points out his photography is "pictured through Latin American eyes".
Salgado's first published work was the "Other Americans" in 1985. This work demonstrates well the interest in Latin American, its title reaching out that there is more to the America's than just the USA, a direct play on Robert Franks work no doubt. The images are well staged and capture an atmosphere of neglect, perseverance and struggle. All taken in black and white they are crisp and well defined. The do not demonstrate war or violence just poverty but in a kind and sympathetic way reporting back to a wider community of the everyday struggle of the Latin Americans.
A great source of the images can be found at http://monovisions.com/sebastiao-salgado-other-americas/. I found the image of half naked children playing with bones for toys quite disturbing, whereas the following image could be taken for a modern "photo-bomb" and I wonder if it was staged this way or not. The contrasts between the sad and happy faces cause tension in the image and I cannot fathom it out; perhaps this is the intention.
|The Other Americans - Sebastiao Salgado|
Salgado's other publication of note was "Terra" in which he documented the native's of Brazil and Ecuador in their struggle to gain land that was taken by historical colonisation. This would be similar to that of the native North Americans.
Salgado is also renowned for the work in worn torn cities and spaces of violence and destruction. There is a very good article that I have read from the guardian on this with the title "Viewer or Voyeur" ref: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/mar/08/world-press-photo-sean-ohagan
This is an interested piece that discusses Salgado's world of photography and whether we look at the gore of such images with disdain or with a lust for more?
The following statement from Salgado sums this up very nicely.
In the course of my various reportages, I had witnessed so many tragedies that I believed I was now accustomed, but I hadn’t expected to encounter such violence, hatred, and brutality.” – Sebastião Salgado