Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado has shown the world the face of poverty, the tragedy of famine and the sweat of hard labor. Now Mother Nature is attracting the world-renowned master of black-and-white stills.
XINGU INDIAN RESERVATION, Brazil Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado has shown the world the face of poverty, the tragedy of famine and the sweat of hard labor.
Now Mother Nature is attracting the world-renowned master of black-and-white stills.
Salgado is chasing animals in the wild, taking pictures of pristine landscapes and indigenous tribes that still live in balance with the environment.
The project he calls Genesis has taken the 61-year-old to the Xingu reservation in Brazil's Amazon, clicking away in a white Panama hat and shirt among dancing, painted Indians.
"We live in disharmony with the universe, as if we were not part of it," Salgado said, sitting in a hammock in the Waura village in Xingu.
Salgado's most famous pictures have often shown the grim side of life in refugee and workers communities across the world, such as his 1986 images of miners in the Serra Pelada mine in Brazil swarming over the earth like ants.
In his Exodus project, he focused on the fate of poor farmers forced to abandon their land for an uncertain future in big cities all over the world.
Born in Minas Gerais state in 1944, he trained as an economist and switched to photography in 1973. Among his other famed work are his photos of the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the only stills taken of the incident.
The theme of the Genesis project also has its gloomy overtones. It is designed to show how modern man is losing contact with the earth and is an attempt to rediscover the lost link and promote conservation efforts.
"We try to feel more and more in control in an urban society but we are losing balance," Salgado said.
The Indians called him Kaki, or "Salty", the translation of his Portuguese last name.
TURNING TO ANIMALS
The reservation, in central Brazil, is home to about 5,000 of Brazil's indigenous population of around 700,000. Though the number of Brazilian Indians is growing, it is still tiny compared with the estimated 6 million population before the arrival of the Portuguese over 500 years ago. Centuries of abuse, enslavement and illnesses wiped out many tribes.
As a result, Salgado aimed his lenses at animals for the first time.
But he says he is treating them just as humans, trying to understand them and photograph them "with passion".
"It's the first time that I decided to photograph other animals, beyond man," he said, adding that he quickly discovered how not to scare the wild creatures away, be it giant Galapagos turtles or jungle beasts.
"If you come walking on foot they go away, but if you come on your knees, at their height, they accept you."
Salgado has already visited the Galapagos Islands with its rich fauna and Patagonia's coast where he took pictures of whales. After Xingu, he will travel to Africa and photograph elements of tribal life and nature.
The project will last for eight years. Salgado's pro-nature drive should not only produce exhibitions and coffee-table books, but educational materials and tree replanting in Brazil's decimated Atlantic rainforest.