Sebastião Salgado Announces Retirement From the Field

Sebastião Salgado. | Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Legendary photographer Sebastião Salgado has announced his retirement from shooting in the field.

The 80-year-old Brazilian tells The Guardian that years of working in hostile environments has taken its toll and it’s time to call it a day.

“I know I won’t live much longer. But I don’t want to live much longer. I’ve lived so much and seen so many things,” Salgado says.

The British newspaper reports that Salgado is still healthy; he is able to walk or cycle several miles a day. But it is time for him to stop embarking on projects.

Salgado suffers from a blood disorder that is a result of the malaria he caught while in Indonesia and he also has a spinal issue from when a landmine blew up a vehicle he was riding in during Mozambique’s war of independence in 1974.

Not Totally Stepping Down

Of course, Salgado doesn’t need to take pictures in the field to keep busy. He is now the editor of his own momentous archive which could be nearly one million photos.

From his Amazônia project.

And last year it was announced that he would receive the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award from the Sony World Photography Awards 2024. This means that he is busying himself preparing for the exhibition at London’s Somerset House in April.

He is also working with the Wende Museum in Los Angeles on a project about workers he documented in the then-Soviet Union. And there is another project he’s involved in with São Paulo’s Museum of Image and Sound.

But many will be disappointed to hear that there will be no new Salgado pictures. Up until recently, he was creating incredible imagery; for example his Amazônia project which was released in 2021 featured marvelous photos of tribes in the Amazon.

Salgado was born in 1944 in Aimorés, Brazil, and didn’t embark on a full-time career in photography until 1973 when he was age 29.

He is influenced by his upbringing in Brazil which was marked by the great expanse of nature and open skies. He joined Magnum Photos in 1979, leaving in 1994 to co-found his own agency, Amazonas Images, with his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado.