Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sebastião Salgado: The Modern Face of the Worker


The images of child laborers photographed by Lewis Hine in the previous post are like a faint memory from a distant past, but the reality of today's working man isn't so far removed from those of the previous feature. The harsh reality of manual labor as captured by Hine a century ago is still reflected in the faces of today's laborers as photographed by Sebastião Salgado.

Mr. Salgado is currently based in Paris but hails from Aimorés in Southeastern Brazil. His series entitled Workers began in 1986 and centers on different industries that employ manual labor all around the world.


From the tea plantations in Rwanda to the gold mines of Brazil to the textile industry in Bangladesh, Mr. Salgado captured the workers in their element and presented them in striking black and white photographs.

This kind of presentation makes the pictures both objective and subjective at the same time, but the focus is never lost on the worker who is the subject. As he puts it, "It is not the photographer who makes the picture, but the person being photographed." His images are testament to that quote.


In many places, machinery has become the dominant means of harvesting and processing materials, but operating costs as well as the overflowing presence of manual labor means that men and women still do most of the work.

Even with the proper equipment and right training, many jobs are still physical taxing and quite dangerous. If not for Mr. Salgado's images, this fact would remain relatively unknown or largely forgotten.



If you look closely at these photographs, you will notice that some of these workers are gathering the raw ingredients that become the commodities and even luxury items marketed in the first world. It's not unlikely that you have used a product that might have crossed the hands on one of these workers.

The sad reality of this series is that these workers toil around the clock to provide the raw materials and processed goods that allow others to lead a more comfortable life.


You would think that after seven years of grueling field work around the work, Mr. Salgado would move on to more glamorous projects, but he has persevered in documenting refugees and their migration plight, the effects of drought near the Sahara desert in Africa, and the global campaign to eradicate polio.

He co-founded along with his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado the Amazones Images photo agency. His current project is entitled Genesis and is focused on documenting landscapes and cultures that are pristine and left untouched by urbanization.


More of these images from the Workers series as well as from Sebastião Salgado's other projects can be found on the Amazones Images website. You can also purchase Sebastiao Salgado: Workers, as well as his other projects, Migrations: Humanity in Transition, Sabastiao Salgado: Africa (GO) and Sahel: The End of the Road.





58 comments:

Fang said...

Black and white always gives it a bit of a special effect, makes the picture feel different. I wonder why it works so well, though...

Banacek said...

Powerful stuff!

The Angry Lurker said...

They are stunning especially of the tea picker's hands I believe, really good look at real working.

Dave said...

Great pics. Great post.

D4 said...

Wow these are hard hitters. Much, much respect for Salgado.

Dejch said...

great pictures and also poor ppl :<

ed said...

that is harsh. sucks that it goes on today

ironchefman said...

I love how black and white gives it that nostalgic feel, but this is actually happening today. Social documentary photography is very powerful stuff.

Shutterbug said...

Very striking images! :)

MRanthrope said...

wonderful photos. Good that Salgado is sticking to his guns even after all these years.

DocStout said...

I particularly like the first and last shots. Great series.

BigMike said...

I always feel like a prick but when I see these picture, one of the first things that cross my mind is, if they didn't have this job what WOULD they be doing....

Generally Disgruntled said...

Man. Striking images, as per usual. It really shows the common threads that exist between people enduring hardships across the world. Culture and ideology aside, no one in this world is that different from each other

CPH said...

This is kinda sad. Poor guys!

Moobeat said...

very powerful.

Leo Stahl said...

Quite amazing to say the least. The man's got passion.

Team Panda said...

interesting pics, i wonder what the man in the first picture is thinking.

OatmealStout said...

I like the grittiness of these.

Trolske said...

Wow, amazing how he got this level of misery in such amazing and beautiful pictures.

Laughing Vault said...

second picture is beautiful

-E- said...

are you proposing that the workers should organize and forcibly take a share of the companies for which they work?

Colin Biano said...

great photos

ChazWellington said...

these make me feel privileged

A Heel in Mint said...

Beautiful work! So much emotions in these pictures.

xx
Heel in Mint

Astronomy Pirate said...

You really have to have a lot of respect for these people. They might never even get on the internet in their lives, but they mine the ores that become parts of your desktops or laptops. It's an amazing cycle.

PaulBlark said...

Great photos

jblogger45 said...

very moving photos

Dale said...

there are so many people who claim to have the toughest jobs, but it's definitely manual labor seen in these photos that are the toughest.

Nice

Dale
Thx for your comment too, my friend in Nor Cal takes my pics for me

Inhia said...

I do labor. It's hard

Malkavian said...

Black and white pics always look great

Joel C Anatoli said...

We are all workers one level or another.

BannedFromAdsense.NET said...

This is really sad :(

Patti D. said...

amazing pictures, so powerful!

Triper said...

I love Salgados photos, he is great! Very nice pictures.

Alexandra said...

these pictures are very deep! love it :-). Thank you for the nomination!

Alphabeta said...

Hard hitting stuff.

Flodström said...

I meant the third one!

Flodström said...

Wow. the second one was really amazing, I'm going to save that one!

thenitefalls said...

These pictures have the power to touch souls :(

Nik Mekeena said...

even though its sad I really love that oil picture. It reminds me of There Will Be Blood

Stare Dad said...

i find these very disturbing :(

ThirteenCats said...

those photos are amazing, the clarity and definition are just incredible

Rob said...

You don't see enough of the unsung heroes I say! This was a great post!

Samuel Jackson said...

Nice photos

Finn Phoenix said...

The bottom 3 have to all be the same guy.

Electric Addict said...

what great photographs!

Speedy Ed said...

some really moving photos there, nice choices

Solsby Kid said...

Amazing photos

duffboi said...

Eye opening photos. Thanks for sharing.

Spock said...

Nice photos

fabio_2007 said...

nice photos

elexerdelex said...

wow... I also know that chocolate is made from such labor...
But you cant change the world by stopping to eat chocolate...

Reilly said...

amazing

HiFi said...

It's shocking sometimes how we think we need reforms in worker's rights when the things depicted in the photos above are happening around the world. If only there was a way to speed up social development in third world countries.

Jaccstev said...

A very informative post and mesmerizing images. Thanks for sharing.

Brock said...

It's amazing to think how lucky we are sometimes

Necroticism said...

Damn, very cool pics mate! The 3rd one looks epic.

BojanCo said...

Very cool post, keep it up...

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