Photo Essay: Sebastião Salgado receives Praemium Imperiale 2021 award 

Photo: Bela Yawanawá, from the village of Mutum, with a headdress and painted face. Rio Gregório indigenous territory, Acre, Brazil, 2016. Photograph: © Sebastiao Salgado/

14 September 2021 | The Guardian

All images © Sebastião Salgado/

The Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado has been named as one of four winners of a £400,000 award given by the Japan Art Association. 

Amazonia, an exhibition by Salgado, opens at the Science Museum in London from 13 October.

An exhibition of collectors prints, organised by the Photographers’ Gallery, is on show at Cromwell Place Art Centre from 20 October.

San people (bushmen), Botswana, 2008

Brookes Range, Alaska, US. 2009

Churchgate is the terminus station of India’s Western Railway line, which brings 2.7 million commuters into Mumbai every day. It is not a large station but at rush hour trains seem to arrive every 20 seconds. Built by the British, India’s railway system covers much of the country. But now, even with the addition of numerous commuter lines, such is population growth here that the trains are always dangerously overcrowded. Mumbai, India, 1985
Photograph: © Sebastiao Salgado/

Suruwahá indigenous territory, Amazonas, Brazil, 2017

Chinstrap penguins. South Sandwich Islands, 2009

Rio Bonito do Iguaçu, Paraná state, Brazil, 1996

Tigrayrefugees hide under trees to avoid the surveillance of Ethiopian government planes. Authorities want to stop them fleeing to Sudan. Ethiopia, 1985

Kafue National Park, Zambia. 2010

Bela Yawanawá, from the village of Mutum, with a headdress and painted face. Rio Gregório indigenous territory, state of Acre, Brazil, 2016

Dinka cattle camp at Kei. Southern Sudan, 2006

Thousands of men covered in mud struggle across this manmade hole, the size of a football field, called Serra Pelada, in Para, Brazil. In 1980, a cowhand first discovered a gold nugget in a stream. He sold it in a nearby town, and two weeks later 10,000 garimpeiros or golddiggers arrived. So far the largest nugget weighted 63.39kg. The mine is open from September to January in the dry season. Serra Pelada, state of Para, Brazil, 1986

A girl selling toffee apples near Guatemala City, Guatemala 1978. Sebastião Salgado, who now lives in Paris, remained haunted by these faces long after he left his native Brazil in the late 60s. Over a seven-year period that seemed to take him back centuries, he traveled to Brazil’s north-east and through Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico

Workers struggle to fix a damaged oil well after Saddam Hussein’s forces set hundreds alight during the Gulf war. Kuwait, April 1991

Men of the Yali people wearing koteka, or penis gourd. Papua New Guinea, 2010

Landless workers in Cuiabá Farm, Sertão de Xingó, Sergipe state, Brazil


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