Sebastiao Salgado – Genesis Exhibition

A week or so ago I was reading in Andy Beel’s blog about an exhibition called Genesis by Sebastiao Salgado at the Natural History Museum in London. I had already planned to visit the capital for an ARPS Advisory day in Greenwich, so I thought it would make sense and take this opportunity to see for myself why Andy Beel had described the exhibition as follows – ‘This is undoubtedly the most stunning photography exhibition in any genre you will see this year or in this decade.’ Having been to see the Ansel Adams exhibition some months earlier I thought that this was a pretty bold statement, but it was fully justified. There are over 200 photographs, all in black and white, which were quite superb.

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Genesis Exhibition

On the Natural History Museum website Salgado is quoted as saying – ‘Many of us live in cities, cut off completely from the planet. My wish was to experience living with people with real links to nature… For me to back to nature was a huge pleasure. I wished to present the planet in my language, photography. And so came to Genesis.’

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Sebastiao Salgado

The ‘Genesis’ project spans 8 years of Sebastiao Salgado’s life and work. During this time he visited 32 countries and some of the wildest and remotest places imaginable; capturing dramatic landscapes, the wildlife and the indigenous people of these unspoilt areas. Salgado is a Brazilian born social documentary photographer and photojournalist. As well as his photography, he has devoted much of his life to the restoration of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, turning a small area into a nature reserve dedicated to a mission of reforestation, conservation and environmental education. The reserve is called Instituto Terra.

This exhibition is a ‘tour de force’. Incredible images, some printed very large, many of which just take your breath away. It was hard for me to contemplate the fact that these people and places exist on the same planet as I do. Simply click here or on the image below to see examples of his ‘Genesis’ work and I hope that you will be inspired and motivated to visit the exhibition for yourself.


© Sebastiao Salgado

As a very keen black and white photographer, I was also interested in how the images were presented, their overall look, how they were processed and printed, and not just to be taken in by the subject matter. The photographs exhibited quite a lot of grain which lead me to think that he worked with film and not digitally. I am no expert and have never developed or printed a roll of film in my life but this seemed to be a reasonable assumption. I decided to undertake some research and found out that Salgado used a black and white film called Kodak Tri X 400, which was first introduced back in the 1950s. More recently though he has switched to the digital environment but to maintain the film like look of his photographs, he uses software called DxO Film pack. There is a testimonial by Salagdo on the DxO website supporting his use of the product. I found this discovery most interesting and it got me think about my own work.

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The Collectors Limited Edition Genesis book

I mentioned earlier that my very reason for visiting London was to attend an ARPS advisory day, as I am still intent on working on a project which would result in a panel of work to give me an Associateship Distinction with the Royal Photographic Society. The combination of the two events gave me some inspiration. Could I prepare a body of work based on the Goodwood Revival, a annual historic motor racing event, and process the images to give them the classical look of black and white photographs of the 1950s and 60s? The event itself is a throw back to this period. So if my images were to reflect this fact, and I tried to emulate the look and feel of the photography of the period, there might be a harmony between the subject matter and the panel of work. I will be going to the Revival Meeting in September and in the meantime I will be giving this idea further consideration. I have already downloaded the trial version of the DxO Film Pack software and I know I will be ‘blogging’ about this in due course.

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The Exhibition at the Natural History Museum

Enough of my aspirations and back to the ‘Genesis’ exhibition. Dont miss it! The Natural History Museum has played host to the world premiere of this remarkable exhibition which runs until the 8th September. Do note you need to book online in advance.

2 Responses to “Sebastiao Salgado – Genesis Exhibition”

  1. Simon Howlett

    He’s a fabulous photographer. Great to see these images from the exhibition. I didn’t get chance to go but I do have the standard edition book!


    • alan frost

      I was taken away by the exhibition. I didn’t buy the book but it will probably find a place on my ‘photography’ shelf in the future.

      Thanks too for following my blog. Alan.



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