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Sunday, March 15, 2009

International Sustainability Photography Prize, Sponsored by Prix Pictet

By Manuel Bueno

From "Salt Water Tears: Lives Left Behind [...]" 2009

Nine years ago two amazing books were published – both from the same author, Sebastião Salgado. These two books were photography books, Migrations, and The Children: Refugees and Migrants. I have never known much about photography and probably will never do, but I still remember clearly how the images followed me for days.

They were not gruesome images, like the ones we see in the news compelling us to feel pity for those who are hungry or cold. Instead, Salgado offered photos of children who wanted their picture taken as a game and looked at the camera smiling - often but not always. He offered photos of Jews leaving the former Soviet Union, Africans traveling into Europe or Kosovars fleeing into Albania – people who had lost everything, but were hanging with their bare teeth to their dignity. Most importantly, the photos were extremely beautiful – with a beauty that really hurt.

I was reminded of Sebastião Salgado when I bumped into a Financial Times article mentioning the Prix Pictet prize, the world’s first prize for photography concerned with the theme of sustainability. The prize was won by Benoit Aquin with a series on China’s desertification process. What was most impressive to me were the series commissioned by Prix Pictet related with water scarcity in Bangladesh entitled “Salt Water Tears: Lives Left Behind in Satkhira, Bangladesh.”

If you have a second I recommend you take a look.

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