A theme constantly occurring in Salgado’s photography is poverty.
A large portion of his work involves people; specifically those living in developing countries who are deprived and impoverished in some way or another.
The subjects of his photographs range from peasants, refugees, orphans and migrants.
During his career in photojournalism he has travelled to numerous countries across the globe, including Africa, Brazil, Afghanistan, Ecuador, India, Croatia and Sudan, as well as many others.
“ What I want is the world to remember the problems and people I photograph. What I want is to create a discussion about what is happening around the world and to provoke some debate with these pictures. Nothing more than this. I don’t want people to look at them and appreciate the light and the palate of tones. I want them to look inside and see what the pictures represent, and the kind of people I photograph” - Sebastiao Salgado NOTE: Quote is excerpt from an interview with Sabastiao Salgado by Ken Lassiter, Photographer’s Forum.
His first major project in 1993 was entitled Workers, documented manual labor, at merely a survival level.
At times he is influenced by his connection to his photography.
For example, Salgado can identify with the migrants photographed in his series Migrations: Humanity in Transition because he too was a migrant.
However, other influences, such as other photographers, are not greatly present in his work.
This is because Salgado does not greatly focus on photographic techniques and achieving visual appeal, but instead focuses on creating a story through his images;
“ I always work for a group of pictures, to tell a story. If you ask which picture in a story I like most, it is impossible for me to tell you this. I don’t work for an individual picture. If I must select one individual picture for a client, it is very difficult for me.” - Sebastiao Salgado