A Different Light

The Photography of Sebastião Salgado

A Different Light

Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 21 photographs Published: January 2012

Author: Parvati Nair

Art and Visual Culture > Photography

A Different Light is the first in-depth study of the work of Sebastião Salgado, widely considered the greatest documentary photographer of our time. For more than three decades, Salgado has produced thematic photo-essays depicting the massive human displacement brought about by industrialization and conflict. These projects usually take years to complete and include pictures from dozens of countries. Parvati Nair offers detailed analyses of Salgado’s best-known photo-essays, including Workers (1993) and Migrations (2000), as well as Genesis, which he began in 2004. With Genesis, Salgado has turned his lens from human turmoil to those parts of the planet not yet ravaged by modernity. Interpreting the photographer’s oeuvre, Nair engages broad questions about aesthetics, history, ethics, and politics in documentary photography. At the same time, she draws on conversations with Salgado and his wife and partner, Lélia Wanick Salgado, to explain the significance of the photographer’s life history, including his roots in Brazil and his training as an economist; his perspectives; and his artistic method. Underpinning all of Salgado’s major projects is a concern with displacement, exploitation, and destruction—of people, communities, and land. Salgado’s images exalt reality, compelling viewers to look and, according to Nair, to envision the world otherwise.


“[A]dvance[s] a perceptive, penetrating understanding of social and natural discord encoded in the photographs.” — Giovanna L. Costantini, Leonardo Reviews

“[T]his treatise is useful for its focus on Salgado and its contribution to the search for answers about the ongoing presence of what often seems an unsolvable but significant concern. Nair's book highlights another central core within Salgado's ongoing visual investigation: the varying relationship(s) between humans and the land. . . . Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.” — C. Chiarenza, Choice

“Through exhaustive research on Salgado's work, Nair raises critical questions on ethics, politics, history, photography, and aesthetics. . . Particularly poignant are the intimate conversations among Nair, Salgado, and his wife, Lélia, which add tremendous clarity to Salgado's worldview. Highly recommended for fans of Salgado's work and for those interested in photojournalism, documentary photography, and global humanitarian issues.” — Shauna Frischkorn, Library Journal

“Nair's study is excellent because of its documentary quality. She interviews Salgado and his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, as to their projects and the contexts of their work and she is careful to discuss in depth the controversies surrounding his work and the museological issues associated with the privileged exhibition of misery and poverty. Because it is so meticulously documented, the reader has access to an excellent understanding of the Salgado project.” — David William Foster, Luso-Brazilian Review

“With English language studies on Brazilian photography and photographers relatively scarce, A Different Light makes an important and very welcome contribution to the field.”
— Alice L. Allen, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

“A superb book on the most important photographer in the world today, A Different Light cuts a very wide swath: critical photojournalism, humanitarian documentation, political aesthetics, visual epistemology and historiography, representational theory, documentary ethics, the colonial gaze, the Frankfurt School, Latin America, Africa, the place of still photography in a rapidly moving world, ecology, art, profit, and concern. This is the book that the photography of Sebastião Salgado deserves.” — John Mraz, author of Looking for Mexico: Modern Visual Culture and National Identity

“An excellent study! Parvati Nair simultaneously places the work of Sebastião Salgado within broader contexts and illuminates contemporary debates on aesthetics, ethics, and photodocumentary, with welcome emphasis on perspectives from the Global South. A must-read for all those concerned with photographs as visible evidence.” — Liz Wells, Plymouth University, United Kingdom


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Photo-Trajectory 1

1. The Moving Lens: Abiding Concerns and Photographic Projects 49

2. Engaging Photography: Between the Aesthetic and the Documentary 119

3. Eye Witness: On Photography and Historiography 167

4. Just Regard: On Photography, Aesthetics, and Ethics 217

5. The Practice of Photography: Toward a Polity of the Planet 264

Notes 315

Bibliography 341

Index 351
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5048-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5031-6
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