Sebastião Salgado has won every major prize a photographer can receive, with his crisp, compassionate black-and-white images, many of them from war zones and other locations of human suffering, hanging on the walls of museums, galleries and private collections around the world. His books, including “Workers,” “Migrations,” “Sahel” and, most recently, the nature-oriented “Genesis,” have consistently met with commercial and critical success.
Now, as if to complete the picture, a documentary film about Mr. Salgado, 71, and his work is about to opens in theaters across the United States. “The Salt of the Earth,” a collaborative effort between the German director Wim Wenders, who is also a photographer, and Mr. Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, was nominated for the Oscar for best documentary film, won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival last spring and last month was also awarded a César, the French equivalent of an Academy Award.
The documentary features Mr. Salgado explaining, in French and Portuguese, how he came to take some of his best-known images, such as those from the Serra Pelada series shot in a gold mine in the Amazon 30 years ago. But it also makes clear that his path to becoming a renowned photographer was arduous: He was born deep in the isolated Brazilian interior, scrimped to get an economics degree, left his country and took refuge in France after a military dictatorship seized power in Brazil, and in the mid-1990s suffered what he called “a deep psychological crisis” after covering the genocidal civil wars in Rwanda and Bosnia and had to recalibrate the focus of his work.
Nowadays, although “my vision of the human being has not changed, I no longer think just of my own species,” Mr. Salgado, speaking in Portuguese, said in a telephone interview from his studio in Paris last month. “That’s not my only preoccupation. Today I think of the other species too, of the ants, the termites, the whales, they are as important as my own. The behavior of our species, what we do to nature, to other species, to each other, is awful, so I have the same skepticism about us that I always had.”
That broadened interest in environmental concerns is documented in detail in “The Salt of the Earth,” which shows him working on the “Genesis” project in locales as far-flung as the Amazon, the Arctic and New Guinea and also accompanies him as he tries to undo the environmental degradation afflicting his native region through a foundation he set up for that purpose, the Instituto Terra. Mr. Salgado talked about those and other subjects with Larry Rohter. Their conversation has been edited.
Q.You’ve largely avoided movies in the past. What made you willing to do this documentary film? Was it because your son was involved?
A. It wasn’t a decision taken easily in the beginning. Juliano had always wanted to do the story of his family, he’s the child of immigrants, we came here to Paris and in the beginning we were kind of refugees, it was during the time of the Brazilian dictatorship, and we remained here. You must have seen the film and noted that my father is in it. That was done around 1998 or 1999, when Juliano was very young, just starting to do cinema.
Then, around 2009, Wim Wenders came to our house, and I showed him the photographs from “Genesis.” I said to him, ‘This is the project I am working on.’ I made a slide show, I did conferences, I put some music to it. I didn’t know anything about cinema, but I asked: Is there a way to make a film of this? That was my idea. In my head, I really wanted the images to enter into that world in some fashion.
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“For generations the Lower East Side was a churning cauldron of activity. Site of immigrants (my own family passed through there more than a century ago), it already had a long history of renewal and decay.”
Alex Bocchetto: With Invisible City you narrated New York’s East Village and Alphabet City from a very personal point of view. Can you tell us your experience in shooting for the project back then?
Ken Schles: Even after all these years it still feels a little alien to me to hear Invisible City referred to as a “project.” I guess we can call it a project. I was responding to what I was seeing and feeling at the time—where I found myself. Invisible City was about confronting and overcoming fears: it was about being locked inside my apartment and feeling trapped, but also wanting to venture out. To go out into what seemed an overwhelming, arbitrary, inscrutable, dangerous world. I didn’t quite know how to proceed. I was unsure of myself. I had no money and few resources. But I recognized that what I experienced everyday when I walked the streets near my home wasn’t reflected in what I saw in mainstream media. I felt compelled to capture that mood, which for me was so tangible, so palpable. And obvious too: what I was experiencing was intimately connected to outcomes of recent history: the collapse of the inner city, postwar deindustrialization, economic stratification, cultural dislocation, race tensions, the drug wars, the rise of AIDS. My state of mind—what I saw and how I lived—was a direct result of social and economic machinations that had been grinding along for a long time. The degraded physical environment… it all weighed upon me.
(Alex Bocchetto of Akina Books Interviews Ken Schles)
What Is Resolution?
Ok, so most people equate resolution to the number of Megapixels, especially when comparing digital camera qualities, but this is not entirely accurate. Image resolution is basically the amount of detail an image can show. It is the quantification of the degree to which two lines next to each other can be visibly resolved, or discerned from each other. If a camera, film or lens can produce an image where you can see clearly defined edges of the smallest details, the resolution is said to be high.
A DIGITAL CAMERA WOULD HAVE TO BE 156 MEGAPIXELS TO GIVE YOU THE SAME KIND OF DETAIL AS 35MM FILM.
So, Megapixels then become a kind of unit of measuring resolution in digital images. Resolution is determined by the size of pixels present in the image, and the more the pixels, the smaller they are. However, naturally, this has to take the size of the area in question as well. Plus, there are other considerations as well, such as the image processing algorithms and interpolation of pixels, which we will discuss further shortly.
Film resolution is measured in lines per millimeter, and these lines comprise pairs of a dark and a light line, also known as line pairs per millimeter. Since film records details naturally, there are no algorithms and computer interpretations to mess things up and the details you see are extra-ordinary, especially with medium and large format sheet film.
For Now is the result of filmmaker Michael Almereyda’s year-long search through the Eggleston archives, a remarkable collection of heretofore unseen images spanning four decades of work by one of our seminal artists. Unusual in its concentration on family and friends, the book highlights an air of offhand intimacy, typical of Eggleston and typically surprising.Read More
The Los Angeles-based press The Ice Plant, run by Mike Slack and Tricia Gabriel, is among small presses currently turning out photography books that are more manuscript than monograph. Aside from co-managing The Ice Plant, Slack is a photographer who up until this point has worked mostly in Polaroid, producing a series of books that ask to be read despite their lack of text.
I walked up to the Ice Plant booth at the LA Art Book Fair this April and Believer illustrations editor Jason Polan said hey and introduced me to Mike Slack. Mike Slack showed me a picture of a dome in Casa Grande. Over the next few months we emailed one another.
I. THE PERCEPTION ENHANCER
THE BELIEVER: When I ran into you at the LA Art Book Fair you were having a conversation about some black and white laser prints that you made and were selling in unlimited editions for five dollars each. You said that you might go print more that night if something sold out. It’s a total contrast to the unique-object Polaroid prints that you’ve made in the past, but the aesthetic of the pictures has stayed relatively constant. What were the major catalysts for your shift in process?
MIKE SLACK: Those prints were made quickly and cheaply while I was doing something else—we needed a big poster for The Ice Plant’s space at the Fair and at the last minute I added a few of the pictures I’d been playing with earlier in the week. I liked the effect – distressed, dreamy, Xerox-like – cranked out a few more, cut them into a stack of smaller posters to sell at our table, then kept going back to print more as they sold. I’ve been staring at all these new digital photographs the last few months—scrutinizing the pictures in super-hi-res full color on a bright backlit screen, correcting, adjusting, controlling, etc—so the lo-fi effect of those laser prints, with all their flaws & variations, was really liberating.
In June 2009, the Eastman Kodak Company publicly announced that it would no longer manufacture Kodachrome 64, its oldest and most iconic color film stock. It was a significant blow to the global photographic community, one whose effects were largely symbolic. The film had achieved a cult status among photographers — both amateur and professional — since its introduction in 1935, and had captured some of history’s most storied color photographs: William Eggleston’s “The Red Ceiling”, Steve McCurray’s NatGeo cover photograph of an Afghan girl.
Ahndraya Parlato & Gregory Halpern are photographers based in Rochester, New York. Their first collaborative book East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Études Books, 2014) was released last fall. Lavalette would like to thank Ahndraya and Gregory to taking the time for this conversation while they are temporarily living and working out in Los Angeles, California.
Benjamin Chadbond & Patrick Mason: Études Studio has recently published your book East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a series containing images by you both. The work contains many references to binary concepts such as night and day, birth and death, lightness and darkness and continuity and transition. This is the first time you have produced a body of work together, perhaps a poignant parallel to the ideas of duality expressed in the book. Can you talk a little bit about how these ideas influenced the work and how they manifested themselves through your collaboration?
Ahndraya Parlato: Some of the binary concepts you’ve listed above are a product of the guidelines we gave ourselves while producing the images, which were all made on either a Solstice or an Equinox. Being both the longest and shortest days of the year, the ideas of light/dark, and day/night, are inherent to these days; and as markers of seasonal change, crop sowing, and reaping, also call to mind birth and death. In addition, we were having a baby while working on the book, and this only further enhanced our interest in these ideas, giving them a more personal nature.
Purchase East of the Sun, West of the Moon here.
Sal Cincotta knows a great location when he sees one. The first time he visited the Great Wall in China he knew he would one day return, this time with cameras and a plan. Born in Brooklyn, Cincotta worked as a wonk at Microsoft before finding his true calling as a photographer. About 10 years ago he upped and left the East Coast. Today he’s a wedding and portrait photographer based in the St Louis Metro area, though his assignments often take him far from the comforts of his Illinois studio. Like China for instance.
I know we say this every single issue, but seriously, this issue? Number 46? It’s the best issue we ever done did. Check it out. Ex-Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns breaks his eight-year silence to tell us why he’s been silent for eight years; Skater/Painter Brian Lotti discusses the invention of the Big Spin and the virtues of lugging an easel up a hill; New York artist Weirdo Dave talks about glue and magazines and his freakishly limited experience with the Internet; and Nate Lawrence takes us behind-the-scenes of Kai Neville’s latest surf flick, Cluster. After that, Brodie Jackson does some tattoos that will make you wish you weren’t afraid to get tattoos; Color magazine’s Sandro Grisonreveals Vancouver’s best places to eat, sleep, drink, skate, expel wind and party; the delightfulCharles Manson takes a break from his wedding plans to tell you what the future holds in your horoscope; and Mike Gigliotti explains how a sensitive artist like himself wound up in the military. Also, Dylan Reider puts together a mix tape guaranteed to make you skate better, and, as always,Andy Jenkins, Dave Carnie, Vaughan Dead, and myself waffle on and on and on about anything we want.
To heck with Oily Amateurs, it’s all happening in Monster Children #46!
Rather than writing a review, I wanted to instead share my experience as a wedding photographer with the M9 and explain a little about why I ultimately chose to not send the rental back.Read More
Photographer Timothy Archibald looks back on the project that changed his family’s life
It’s been nearly five years since photographer Timothy Archibald published his second book, Echolilia, and even longer since he and his son Eli unwittingly became the poster children for autism. That was never the plan.
“Looking at my life and career, I do think there was a turning point before Echolilia and after,” Archibald says. “A lot of things changed during that period, none of them were ever really calculated.”
Zoom in on Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 cult classic
“It’s my job. Some people are bull-fighters. Some people are politicians. I’m a photographer,” says Thomas, the protagonist of Michelangelo Antonioni’s cult classic and best box office-grossing 1966 film “Blow-Up.”
Played by David Hemmings, Thomas is a hip, brash fashion shooter in London’s ‘Swinging Sixties,’ an era when British lensmen dominated and reinvigorated glossy model spreads in magazines. A distant dream for photographers today, he drives a Rolls Royce through the city, and has young aspiring models stalking him to have their picture taken. Despite his success and the hedonistic rewards that come with it, Thomas grows increasingly bored of his commercial work and drawn ever more to the social documentary potential of photography, to reportage and street shooting. After moonlighting, quite literally, spending nights snapping stealthy frames in a homeless shelter, Thomas comes upon a couple embracing in Maryon Park, and kneels to capture a candid moment.
Markus' live music photographs have always stood out to me as some of the best in the business, and its no wonder he gets to shoot some of the biggest acts in the world. His photographs are always impeccably composed, beautifully coloured and spectacularly lit.Read More
AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE SOON
Danny Clinch’s love of music and photography go hand in hand. He picked up a camera at a young age. “As soon as I started going to concerts with my friends, I’d bring a camera along, sneak it into the venues,” he told us. “I saw Charlie Daniels Band at Six Flags Great Adventure, Stray Cats at The Stone Pony, Bob Seeger at the Philadelphia Spectrum.”
by Tim Matsui & Mediastorm
The Long Night is a feature length documentary film about sex trafficking and underage prostitution in America. It is also one component of a much larger, ongoing project called Leaving The Life.
Gary Cranitch is showing his quirky, obscure, subversive, out-of-left field interpretations of the life of a traveling photographer up and down the coast of Queensland.
Friday May 1st at 6:30pm - 9:00pm
429 Old Cleveland Road, Coorparoo, Queensland, Australia, Coorparoo, Queensland, Australia
Jon Duenas is a fashion and editorial photographer currently based in Portland, OR. His work focuses on a minimalist aesthetic and introspective stillness, allowing space for the viewer to visually explore and connect with the images.
For all inquiries, please contact directly.