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Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph made by Kevin Carter in 1993 I decided to describe the story behind this photograph, because of two reasons. The first one is a book I am reading now: ‘The Bang – Bang Club’. Kevin Carter – the author of this photograph belonged to this four-member club of South African photographers. The second reason is that this is an important moment in documentary photograhy. This photograph was taken during the Sudan Famine in 1993.
The picture depicts a hunger stricken child crawling towards a United Nations food camp, located a kilometer away.
The child is dying and he won’t make it to the camp. In the background a vulture is waiting for the child to die so it can eat him. The photographer waited for the vulture to spread its wings over the child, but it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, this picture shocked the whole world in 1993. As it turned out, it also took another death-toll – three months after taking the shot Kevin Carter, aged 33, committed suicide due to depression.
The photograph first appeared in New York Times on March 26, 1993 and was reproduced in many other newspapers around the world. After the publication lots of people contacted the Times to ask about the fate of the boy. His fate was unknown, but it was almost impossible for him to have reached the feeding center. In 1994, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. It wasn’t the most shocking scene in Carter’s career, as he had been working ear- lier for “The Johannesburg Star”, being exposed to the real brutality of Apartheid.
The publication caused rapid reactions. Carter was bombarded with questions about why he had not helped the child, and only used him to take a picture. He was accused by another newspaper: “The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of his suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene. ” In most cases photojournalists say that showing the whole world in its drama is more important that helping starving children at a particular moment, for they will die anyway.
It may sound cynical but I believe this is the right thing for them to do. Carter’s photograph started a discussion about the moral aspects of photojournalism. But the author appeared to be its victim. After his death, Carter’s daughter Megan responded: “I see my dad as the suffering child. And the rest of the world is the vulture. ” Photojournalism is a tough profession. Only one member of Carter’s “Bang – Bang Club” has survived.
Others were killed while working or committed suicides, due to stress and depression. The world should have a bit more respect for photojournalists who have been showing us the most important events in the 20th century. Not longer then a week ago the ‘Chicago Sun-Times’ fired all its staff photographers and decided to give reporters some Iphone training… It wasn’t the most shocking scene in Carter career, as he was working earlier for “Johanesburg Star” being exposed to the real brutality of apartheid.
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