The Day I Discovered My "Why"


I was sitting in my film photography class last fall, when my teacher pulled up a Ted Talk clip of Sebastião Salgado, a famous black and white film photographer. We had just gone to see his latest photography exhibit, Genesis, during a class field trip and she wanted to give us some context about Salgado's life and the impetus for his recent body of work.

Salgado talked about his life, starting with his childhood memories of living on a farm in Brazil, more than fifty percent of which was the rainforest. He described it as a marvelous place, a paradise with incredible birds and animals. He left his childhood home as a young adult and returned many years later shocked to find the land barren and stripped away of its plants and animals. Less than half a percent of the land remained the rainforest. That was when he, with the encouragement of his wife, started to dedicate his work and resources to restore and protect the environment, particularly the forests, starting with his childhood home. He showed a before and after photo of the barren landscape that was incredibly transformed back into a lush forest after over 2 million trees were planted.

I was deeply moved by Salgado's talk. I already admired him as a film photographer, but it was so powerful to hear his why behind the photographs he takes. I was also moved because his talk stirred something in me.  As a creative, Salgado used his art form as a way to advocate for the environment. It rekindled a fire that I had back when I was younger and more tender-hearted. It broke down the many layers of apathy and indifference I had constructed over the years, when the realities of every day life makes it hard to care about anything that doesn't affect you on a practical, tangible level. 

That very evening, around 7 p.m., I found my why for my current creative journey. And yes, I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that it has to do with native plants.

More to come in my next post!