Sebastião Salgado is a renown Brazilian photographer who has his career explored in-depth in the 2014 documentary The Salt of the Earth. His subjects tended to revolve around his learning as an economist: workers, displaced people and others affected by the geopolitical forces.

The documentary gives his insightful glances into the artist within Salgado, like when he describes the method behind his portrait photography, “The strength of a portrait is that in that split second, we understand a little the life of the person photographed. The eyes speak volumes, the expression of the face. When you do a portrait, it is not you alone who takes the picture. The person offers a photo.”

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Some of his images can only evoke sadness and despair, something Salgado fell into after witnessing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Salt of the Earth does not hide the terrible truths of the human condition.

Despite all this, there is hope for the future. The documentary ends on a positive note as Salgado finds a way to “undo time.” Perhaps that’s what photography does–capturing moments in eternity, while simultaneously, we must acknowledge that some moments are lost forever.

 

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