Although he was educated as an economist, Sebastian Selgado understands the world most clearly in images, as demonstrated in his incredibly moving photography. His most recent series, Genesis, is his most ambitious and long-term project, spanning eight years as he visited 30 of the earth’s most pure and untouched sites. He was inspired to do the project because up until that point people had been the central subject of his work. He says that he “… wished to photograph the other animals, to photograph the landscapes, to photograph us, but us from the beginning, the time we lived in equilibrium with nature.”
His imagery is completely enthralling. It is obvious the time he spent for each one to capture just the right moment. The fact that his photographs are in black and white emphasizes their impact further, and creates a greater romanticism. What is truly incredible about Selgado is his investment that gives him such a great return in his artwork. For a while he was disillusioned by the world and his photography, having seen so much devastation as a photojournalist based mostly in Rwanda at the time.
Selgado returned home for his own health and sanity, to Brazil, where his parents had left him their land. It was almost completely cleared of the forest “paradise” it once was to him, and so he and a friend worked to replant the eco-system. This experience seems to have shaped Selgado’s view of the state of our planet as a whole. He has seen the atrocities we have inflicted upon it and ourselves, but he has also successfully restored a piece of it to its original strength and beauty. His images, therefore, are not caught in time as a momento of the world we were once a part of, but a reminder of what we might still participate in for the foreseeable future if we can recognize it as something worth reviving.