2024 Outstanding Contribution to Photography Winner: Sony World Photo Awards

2024 Outstanding Contribution to Photography Winner: Sony World Photo Awards

Kuwait, 1991. © Sebastião Salgado

San Diego, CA—The World Photography Organization announced that the acclaimed Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado has garnered the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 Outstanding Contribution to Photography title.

Sebastião Salgado © Renato Amoroso

Sebastião Salgado is one of the most accomplished and globally celebrated photographers working today. Further, he has achieved international renown for his remarkable black-and-white compositions captured over a more than 50-year career.

Commenting on his acceptance of the award, Sebastião Salgado said: “I am honored to receive this award, and to know that my work is reaching audiences. Photography is my way of life. It is my language. And throughout my career, I have always been interested in capturing the historical moment in which we are living and telling the stories of our species and our planet. A photographer photographs with his heritage. In my work, I seek to explore our shared human experience.”

The World Photography Organization will make dozens of photographs by Salgado part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 exhibition. The exhibit returns to Somerset House in London from April 19 to May 6, 2024. The selection, made by the photographer, highlights the key themes and milestones over the last five decades of his career. The exhibit will feature works from his early projects, such as Gold (1986) and Workers (1993). In addition, it will include his more recent series, like Genesis (2011) and Amazônia (2019). Furthermore, the exhibition will explore the universal complexities and nuances of life on our planet. The works reveal its anguishes and hardships as well as its extraordinary beauty.

Sebastião Salgado

Salgado’s work ranges from poignant portraits of indigenous communities and industrial workers to surveys of migration and striking panoramas of the natural world. Further, his distinctive photographic style has resonated with global audiences. His images are exhibited across leading cultural institutions and featured in major publications. What’s more, they are emblematic of contemporary photographic journalism.

Ethiopia, 1984. © Sebastião Salgado. Draped in blankets to keep out the cold morning wind, refugees wait outside Korem camp.

Born in 1944 in Aimorés, Brazil, Sebastião Salgado practiced as an economist before embarking on a full-time photography career in 1973. He worked with leading photographic agencies Sygma, Gamma and Magnum. His indelible photographic style is deeply rooted in his heritage. His childhood in rural Brazil, surrounded by the expanse of nature and open skies, was an important aesthetic touchpoint. It guided his lens and informed his approach to light, contrast as well as proportionality.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Salgado travelled the world to pursue his projects. Thus, he produced several acclaimed series. Works from these projects will exhibit at Somerset House as part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 exhibition. Gold documents the harsh conditions on the steep cliffs of the Serra Pelada gold mine in northern Brazil. Workers examines the challenges as well as demands of heavy manual labor in the oil, construction, agricultural and mining industries. Also featured in the exhibition are photographs from the Exodus (2000). Moreover, this long-term project traces the global movement of people, in contexts of economic migration and forced displacement.

Recent Works

Furthermore, after bearing witness to the atrocities of conflict in the Congo and Rwanda in the mid-1990s, Salgado turned away from photography for a time. He focused instead on ecological work. With his wife, Lélia, he established the Instituto Terra. It is an initiative to reforest as well as rebuild biodiversity in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

Galápagos, Ecuador, 2004. © Sebastião Salgado. An ectothermal reptile, the marine iguana must regulate its body temperature. When the sun rises, it lies flat, warming as much body area as possible, until it reaches 95.9°F. It changes position to avoid overheating.

Seeing nature’s prodigious capacity for renewal, Salgado was inspired to return to photography. Consequently, he created two major bodies of work. Genesis and Amazônia will both be represented in the exhibition. Genesis explores remote and remarkable corners of the planet where wildlife and humans coexist harmoniously. Amazônia depicts Brazil’s Amazonian Forest and the indigenous communities inhabiting it. The series highlights its beauty while shedding light on the threats it faces.

Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award

The Outstanding Contribution to Photography honors a person or group of people that made a significant impact on the photographic medium. As its 17th recipient, Sebastião Salgado joins a distinguished list of iconic names. They include William Klein (2012), William Eggleston (2013), Elliott Erwitt (2015), Martin Parr (2017), Candida Höfer (2018), Graciela Iturbide (2021), Edward Burtynsky (2022) as well as Rinko Kawauchi (2023).

In addition, the WPO will announce the overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competitions of the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 on April 18, 2024.