Inspiring Purpose

TED Recommendation

Sebastião Salgado: The Silent Drama of Photography

Great talk from an inspirational human being and photographer. Salgado is renown for having the ability to capture sentiment and substance within his images. This talk however goes beyond merely a discussion of photography and rather speaks to purpose, empathy, and inter-connectivity. He shares with us his insights and reflections, having seen so much of the world through is particular lens, and encourages us all to better understand our environment and the part we all play within it.

The Awa

“Shafts of evening sunlight illuminate the dense Amazon rain forest of northeast Brazil.” From Salgado’s contribution to Survival International’s campaign for the Awá people’s rights to the Amazon.

Salgado grew up in Brazil, and focused his academic studies on Economics (earning his Masters from the University of São Paolo), until he moved to Paris, France where he completed his PhD. Upon graduation, he went abroad to work for the International Coffee Organization as well as the World Bank. It was while traveling for them that he took up a camera (as a result of a photography class his wife took), and the world subsequently benefited. He dedicated himself to photography, but moreso to people, and devoted his pictures to social issues and the human condition. As he describes it, he played witness to immense horror, yet also to resilience, observing the persistence of the human spirit, and eventually, hope.

During his life’s journey, there came a point when the sadness and horror overtook him, and he returned back to his homestead in Brazil to seek some form of mental and emotional solace. Upon his return to his roots however, Salgado found much of the land he had once known as green and plentiful, now arid and barren. This compelled him to turn his attention towards replanting the trees and re-greening the land. Eventually it worked, the trees took hold and his home transformed once again, this time realigning itself with the reflection of his memories. He now shares his story to inform the audience that such a change is possible. Furthermore, he has currently shifted his photography upon the natural environment and animal life, committing the next stage of his life to raising awareness of the living planet (click GENESIS to see his most recent work).

The TED Talk was great, but if you’re still interested in learning more about Salgado and his work, a phenomenal documentary was produced about him last year (2014) called Salt of the Earth. It has since won a number of recognition and awards, including a special prize at Cannes.

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