Photographer’s Library : Sebastiao Salgado GENESIS

I remember the first time I saw one of the Salgado’s most famous pictures. I was amazed. It was one from The Workers project where man is trying to stop leaking oil setting on fire. Since then I was hooked and became a huge fan of Salgado’s work.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit an exhibition of The Workers in 2005. The Exhibition was on a train travelling through the Czech and Slovak republics. Link is HERE.

Then it was quite a time before I heard of him again.Recently, I read there was an exhibition of his new work in London accompanied with the book. Unfortunately, I have not managed to go and see the prints yet (exhibition is open in National History museum until 08/09/2013), but I went to the local bookshop to check the book instead.


This project is different. But, before I start to write about the book, please watch and listen master Salgado explaining this project: LINK

I ordered copy of the book from amazon-uk . It came very quickly. The book is massive. More than 500 pages, literally packed with pictures. The quality of the pictures is exceptional, all B&W and beautifully printed.

As per Salgado’s notes the project consists of work from over 32 trips – travelled by foot , light aircraft, seagoing vessels, canoes and even balloons, through extreme heat and cold and sometimes dangerous conditions. What does one discover in GENESIS? I can say the book has it all. The animal species and volcanoes of Galapagos, Penguins, Whales and beautiful landscapes of the Antarctic, Brazilian alligators, isolated tribes deep in the Amazon jungle, Stone age people of West Papua, Nomadic people of the Arctic circle, African animals, Saharan deserts, glaciers of Alaska…. and beyond. Beautiful, breathtaking and truly inspiring work of a true master of photography.

Although I like the book really much there is one thing, which frustrates me. It’s the layout of the book. I would love to see pictures printed on one page rather than divided by layout between two pages. Picture after picture is split in half, landscape, across the two pages, and you can’t see them properly. Their impact is lost because key parts are not visible, sucked towards the spine by the sheer number of pages. It’s so frustrating.

Other than that, I have to say again: Amazing collection of black and white photos, which can be easily compared with work of Ansell Adams. A wonderful collection of images of our fast disappearing and precious world. Salgado is saying, “Some 46% of the planet is still as it was in the time of genesis. We must preserve what exists.”

I love it and GENESIS has already a prominent place in my collection. Every photographer should have a copy of this book. It will fill your heart with wonder and awe at the natural world, and demonstrate the extraordinary talents of Salgado in capturing it for us.


What is your favorite photographic book? Have you got many in your collection? Are you taking inspiration from photographic books?

Michal Tekel



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