I got to see an amazing film last weekend. "The Salt of the Earth" is a documentary about the life and work of Sebastiao Salgado. If you don't know who he is, stop reading now and get to the Google. Come back in a few hours after you've lost yourself in his images. That's more important than my ramblings. Are you back? OK, Salgado is a documentary photographer who has captured images around the world in the midst of the worst of suffering. His images have given a voice to those whose lives are helplessly trapped in horrific conditions - disease, famine, drought, genocide.
It's one thing to document with photography. With Salgado's images, there's more to it. The images are powerful and captivating but most importantly they make you care. His photos never interfere with seeing humanity - real, beautiful people in terrible circumstances. You can tell he got close to these people. You can tell he loves these people. His photographs from his time in Rwanda were most moving to me. Damn. No words.
Salgado's experience in Rwanda took a heavy toll on his soul and returned feeling ill emotionally. Losing hope for humanity, it was his family's drought stricken land in Brazil that brought him back to a renewed sense of purpose and hope. In a shared vision with his wife, the land was slowly brought back from the dead and lush forest land returned. The idea that hope and hard work could bring about a reversal of an ecological disaster resulted in Salgado's "Genesis" project - a decade of ecologically focused documentary photography.
A photograph can't change the world. It can show people something though - perhaps something terrible that needs to be changed or maybe something beautiful that needs to be preserved. Maybe it stirs a sense of hope and then, just maybe, the world can be changed.