Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag, CH. 5

While reading chapter five in the short book Regarding the Pain of Other by Susan Sontag for class, I was able to hone in and really dig into the content Sontag was discussing in the chapter. What stood out to me the most was her discussion on the photographer Sebastião Salgado who went to 40 countries in six years to be among the world’s migrants and refugees so that he could tell visual stories of their difficult journeys as they leave their homes for places and lives unknown to them. This topic stemmed from the idea of war, sadness, tragedy, and horrific events among other things being photographed as beautiful.

I found the fact that Salgado is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador interesting considering the argument of whether he accurately coveres the tragedies being faced by refugees. Salgado had said (of the refugees) that “they were frightened, uncomfortable and humiliated. Yet they allowed themselves to be photographed, I believe, because they wanted their plight to be made known. When I could, I explained to them that this was my purpose. Many just stood before my camera and addressed it as they might a microphone.” Salgado is related and put to the same standards of Robert Capa, Chim and Henri Cartier-Bresson tradition, and what he photographs is not what most of his audience, or at least most of the audience for his latest exhibition at the International Center of Photography in Midtown Manhattan, would regard as normal life. He was born in Brazil, first became an economist and whilst traveling began taking photography seriously.


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