I’ve been looking at Sebastião Salgado’s terrific new book Genesis. After a long career photographing the world’s suffering, it’s his attempt to photograph the world uninfluenced by “modern life.”
Many of his previous photographs have shown dispossessed people walking, escaping war, drought, famine, and other disasters, or sometimes failing to escape. There's nothing very "Hollywood" about most of this.
So it’s good to know that Salgado, now 69, is something of a walker himself, if for rather different reasons, and in rather different circumstances than his subjects. Like Werner Herzog, who I assume must be a soul brother, he likes to create hardships for himself. The pictures above and below are not, in fact from Genesis, but feature walkers respectively in Rwanda, the Bosnian enclave of Bihac, and Ethiopia.
To create Genesis he travelled for about eight months of the year for eight years. This from an interview with Charlotte Higgins of the Guardian:
"I walked for 47 days with 7,000 reindeer for the Nenets," he said. "For me, a Brazilian, in temperatures of -35C, -45C, spending 10 or 12 hours outside wasn't easy." His specialist clothing was discarded in favour of kit from the Nenets. "They said, 'Sebastião, you will not survive'."
Endurance was also required in Ethiopia. He added: "I walked 850km because there were no roads. It was an incredible trip, fabulous, but for me very tough – I was 65 years old."