Reborn in the Forest
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Minas Gerais, Brasil. Photo by Jaime Dantas/Unsplash
Nature, World + People

Reborn in the Forest

The Genesis of Sebastião Salgado’s Latter Photography
Agata Kasprolewicz
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time 5 minutes

Looking at death can make you start dying. The photographer’s eye has no natural protective layers; no special screen or filter. It absorbs and sucks in everything it sees. Death invaded Sebastião Salgado through his camera lens in 1994, when he was documenting the bloody slaughter in Rwanda.

What he loved the most about photography – the possibility of encapsulating a fleeting moment forever on film – became his curse. The deaths he captured in his photographs would remain etched inside him, in his mind and body. After his return from the Rwandan hell, Salgado began suffering from various ailments. Infections were blooming all over his body. When making love with his wife, he would ejaculate blood instead of semen. After a series of tests, his doctor told him: “Sebastião, you aren’t ill. Your prostate is in perfect condition. But you have seen so much death you are starting to die yourself. You must stop doing what you do, or you will end up dead.”

And so the photographer decided t

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Photo by Paulina Wilk
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The fog is slowly gathering at the lakeshore, near the thick wall of centuries-old trees. There’s still a good hour until dusk, but something suddenly changes. There’s a commotion on the water. A family of coypu is hunting piranhas. They’re in a hurry, swimming together, snorting, holding pale yellow fish in their clenched teeth. They jump out on fallen tree trunks and eat there, crunching and smacking. Then, they play in shallow waters – squealing, biting each other gently and cuddling in an early-evening display of tenderness.

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