Sebastião Salgado announces he will retire from the field

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Iconic photographer Sebastião Salgado has announced that at 80, it is time to step away from photographing in the field.

“I know I won’t live much longer. But I don’t want to live much longer. I’ve lived so much and seen so many things,” he said to the Guardian

In the interview published last week, he told the British media outlet that despite still being strong and active, and able to walk or cycle several kilometres a day – his body is paying the price for his years working in some of the world’s most hostile and challenging places.

Salgado lives with a blood disorder from improperly treated malaria caught in Indonesia, along with problems with his spine from a landmine that blew up his vehicle in 1974 during Mozambique’s war of independence.

The Brazilian photographer is known for his powerful black-and-white imagery incorporating themes of poverty, war, displacement, and the environment captured over a career spanning more than 50 years.

Sebastião Salgado's 2021 book, Amazônia.
Sebastião Salgado's 2021 book, Amazônia.

His last field-project was the imagery captured for his book Amazônia, published in 2021. 

Stepping away from the lens, the photographer says he will instead shift his focus to his archive, thought to contain more than a million images, and its preservation.

Salgado is also working on a project with the Wende Museum in Los Angeles on industry in the Soviet Union, and preparing for a retrospective exhibition set to open in April, after he received an Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award from the Sony World Photography Awards 2024.

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