10 great Sebastião Salgado quotes about photojournalism

World-renowned photojournalist Sebastião Salgado is known for his intensely demanding, long-term projects that focus on themes of nature and humanity. ‘Workers’, ‘Migrations’ and ‘Genesis’ are three such projects that comprise hundreds of pictures from around the world.

Creating powerful black-and-white imagery that has the power to instigate change has become Salgado’s life mission. “Photography is the language that gives people the opportunity to see what you saw,” he says.

But the former Magnum photographer started out on a different track to documentary photography: he studied economics in Brazil and journeyed to Paris to complete a PhD before turning to photography in 1973.

Taken from the interview on the Canon stand at The Photography Show 2017, here are 10 Sebastião Salgado quotes that lift the lid on what photojournalism is really about:

1. Take your time
“Photography is much more than just taking pictures – it is a way of life. What you feel, what you want to express, is your ideology and your ethics. It’s a language that allows you to travel over the wave of history.”

2. Infuse your photography with your ideals
“Photography is deeply subjective. It is my way of seeing – my pictures are made with my political and ideological ideas.”

3. Make the most of your access
“It is a privilege to be a photographer – to have the opportunity to be there.”

4. Don’t rush a story
“When you [capture] a story, it must be your story, your choice. You must have 100 per cent identification with your story – a patience with the subject that you shoot.”

5. Discuss and consider your stories
“I have a partner that I work with: my wife. The most important thing in all my life was the day that I met my wife. I met her in 1964 and every story that I photographed, we considered, we discussed together. We were motivated by the same ethical and political reasons to do these stories.”

6. Prepare a strong concept
“The time spent photographing in the field is only one per cent of the time. The time I take to consider – to prepare, to design, to have the concept – is a full lifetime. That’s the point with photography.”

7. Live your photography
“When you see these pictures they are much more than just nice pictures, than just a story. It is my life.”

8. Don’t take life for granted
“I am not a believer. But if there is one power superior that can guide us, for me, it is evolution. How we came to be what we are today – what a culmination of experience we have. There is a big power there.”

9. All of Earth’s creatures are equal
On his picture, Marine iguana, Galápagos, Ecuador, 2004: “Every movement in the arm of the iguana is the same that we have in our arm – I identify with the iguana as my cousin. All of us came from the same cells. In a moment it was possible to be an iguana and the iguana to be me.”

10. Photographers are the eyes of the world
“Photography is the language that gives people the opportunity to see what you saw.”
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10 great Sebastião Salgado quotes about photojournalism
via Canon

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18 Iconic Legends Share Their Thoughts
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“I’m not an artist. An artist makes an object. Me, I work in history, I’m a storyteller.”
Sebastião Salgado

Icon05aaSebastiãoSalgadoChinstrap penguins on an iceberg located between the Zavodovski and Visokoi islands, South Sandwich Islands, November and December 2009.
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“No matter what you do, remember that learning the basics is key to your success.”
Hari Mahidhar

Icon05bbHariMahidharWould you believe that this a photo of onions? Hari Mahidhar was shooting spices for stock photography, and thought of portraying their textures in a unique manner.
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“The truth is, I get most of my inspiration from studying other cultures.”
Ralph Gibson

Icon05ccRalphGibsonIf Ralph has to be remembered by a single image, it would be with this photograph titled Priest Collar. “This image has a certain reality… a social and an abstract component… and could almost be in color,” he said.
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“Photography can light up darkness and expose ignorance.”
Lewis Hine

Icon05ddLewisHineThis image, called Breaker Boys, became the most important proof in Hine’s war against child labour.
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“Invest your years in finding your voice, in developing your visual lexicon, and then, in breaking it.”
Swapan Parekh

Icon05eeSwapanParekhBetween Me & Iis an ongoing series of musings that Swapan has with his daily existence. They may be perceived by the impatient, untrained eye as snapshots, but look closer and you will see a measured and intuitive set of sophisticated responses to the visual arrangements around him, a celebration of the mundane.
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“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Ansel Adams

Icon05ffAnselAdams— – —

“If a photograph is made, and no one sees it, is it then an image?” – Hope Cooke
Dr Alice Kandell

Icon05ggDrAliceKandellA large number of Alice’s photos include women and children. She manages to capture their inner world, and the quiet moments. One could argue that it comes easy because she is a woman herself. However, her photos show an intuitiveness, which perhaps allowed her to capture moments like this one of a woman with a basket, resting by the side of a path.
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“I want to see these photographs in books—the most beautiful set of books ever published.”
Edward Curtis

Icon05hhEdwardCurtisSimplicity is a striking feature that can be seen in most of Curtis’ photographs.
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“I want to make photography accessible to those who have the talent but not the means.”
David Zimmerman

Icon05iiDavidZimmermanDavid has collaborated with several Tibetans to preserve the legacy of their culture. He has even set up the Himalayan Art Center in Dharamsala to provide interested individuals the opportunity to learn photography, for free.
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“What is focus, and who has the right to say what focus is the legitimate focus?”
Julia Margaret Cameron

Icon05jjJuliaMargaretCameronJulia drew heavily from biblical subject matter, and often photographed young children as angels. This image is titled I Wait and is a portrait of her niece Rachel Gurney.
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“Photography can have meaning beyond the image. I want to do something right with it.”
Dario Mitidieri

Icon05kkDarioMitidieriMumbai, 1992: Two street children look at a Hindi film poster in one of the many cinemas at Grant Road.
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“The difficulty of making accurate drawings of minute objects led me to the cyanotype process.”
Anna Atkins

Icon05llAnnaAtkinsAnna Atkins pioneered the use of cyanotypes as photographic images and for scientific documentation.
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“In a country where most people cannot read nor write, images remain a tool of communication.”
Shahidul Alam

Icon05mmShahidulAlamA girl looks on from an earthquake-stricken area of Pakistan occupied, Kashmir, in 2005.
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“The perceptive eye of the camera can certainly record all the mighty world.”
Roger Fenton

Icon05nnRogerFentonValley of the Shadow of Death: Fenton’s most famous picture from the Crimean War is considered to be one of the most important photos of all time. He shot two nearly identical frames—one has the road full of cannonballs, while another shows a clear road. Some critics have speculated that Fenton deliberately placed them to enhance the photo.
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“Well-meaning critique makes you grow as person and helps you evolve as a photographer.”
Jagdish Agarwal

Icon05ooJagdishAgarwalAmsterdam, 1986.
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“Photography is a child of numerous fathers. Hippolyte is one of them.” – H Michael Koetzle
Hippolyte Bayard

Icon05ppHippolyteBayardSelf-Portrait as a Drowned Man, considered one of Bayard’s most important works.
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“I am going to make a name for myself. If I fail, you will never hear of me again.”
Eadweard Muybridge

Icon05qqEadweardMuybridgeIt took all of 12 cameras to capture the movement of the horse. The 12 shots were managed in less than half a second, and within 20 minutes, Muybridge developed the plates for visitors to admire.
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“I have this fire in me to create something new, and it grows bigger everyday.”
S Paul

Icon05rrSPaulA child clings to his mother as she prays along with a group of women during Muharram.
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18 Iconic Legends Share Their Thoughts

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