Sony World Photography Awards – Sebastião Salgado scoops Outstanding Contribution award

Ethiopia, 1984. © Sebastião Salgado

The World Photography Organisation has announced Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado is the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award in the Sony World Photography Awards 2024.

One of the most accomplished and globally celebrated photographers working today, Sebastião Salgado has achieved international renown for his remarkable black-and-white compositions captured over a career spanning more than 50 years.

Ranging from poignant portraits of indigenous communities and industrial workers, to surveys of migration and striking panoramas of the natural world, Salgado’s distinctive photographic style has resonated with global audiences. His images, exhibited across leading cultural institutions and featured in major publications around the world, have become emblematic of contemporary photographic journalism.

Dozens of photographs by Salgado will be on view as part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 exhibition, which returns to Somerset House, London from 19 April – 6 May 2024. The selection, made by the photographer, highlights the key themes and milestones over the last five decades of his career.

Featuring works from his early projects such as Gold (1986) and Workers (1993)and more recent series like Genesis (2011) and Amazônia (2019), the exhibition explores the universal complexities and nuances of life.

Portrait of Sebastião Salgado, 2019. © Renato Amoroso

Born in 1944 in Aimorés, Brazil, Sebastião Salgado trained and practised as an economist before embarking on a full-time career in photography in 1973, going on to work with leading photographic agencies Sygma, Gamma and Magnum. His photographic style is deeply rooted in his heritage: his childhood in rural Brazil, surrounded by the great expanse of nature and the open skies, was an important aesthetic touchpoint, guiding his lens and informing his approach to light, contrast and proportionality.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Sebastião Salgado travelled around the world to pursue his projects, producing a number of acclaimed series, which continue to influence visual culture today. Works from several of these projects will be on view at Somerset House as part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 exhibition, including Gold (1986), which documents the harsh conditions on the steep cliffs of the Serra Pelada gold mine in northern Brazil, and Workers (1993) which examines the challenges and demands of heavy manual labour in the oil, construction, agricultural and mining industries.

Commenting on his acceptance of the award, Sebastião Salgado says: “I am honoured to receive this award, and to know that my work is reaching audiences. Photography is my way of life, it is my language, and throughout my career I have always been interested in capturing the historical moment in which we are living, and telling the stories of our species and our planet. A photographer photographs with his heritage, and in my work I seek to explore our shared human experience.”

The Outstanding Contribution to Photography honours a person or group of people that have made a significant impact on the photographic medium. As its 17th recipient, Sebastião Salgado joins a distinguished list of iconic names including William Klein (2012), William Eggleston (2013), Elliott Erwitt (2015), Martin Parr (2017), Candida Höfer (2018), Graciela Iturbide (2021), Edward Burtynsky (2022) and Rinko Kawauchi (2023) to name a few.

The overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competitions of the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 will be announced on 18 April 2024. For more information about upcoming announcements and winners please visit

Kuwait, 1991. © Sebastião Salgado.jpg


Chris Price