The Vicious Edge Of Photojournalism- Kevin Carter

Kevin Carter, the now much popular name, back in 1993 had not known the taste of fame or name until he won the Pulitzer Prize for the year 1994. The South African photojournalist who began his career as a sports photographer in 1983 soon moved to the frontlines of South African political friction to record the images of public grievances,repression,anti apartheid protests,violences playing havoc through the country.

Starving Child and the Vulture Photograph
Image courtesy: Kevin Carter

His award winning photograph was in everyway extremely distressing and painful, but the thought that he oppressed the child’s suffering for his fame was no less than brutality will leave us in dejection. While he adjusted his camera lens to focus on a famine stricken malnourished Sudanese child who was striving hard on the ground to get to the food station,he noticed a vulture perking on the ground close to the child. Kevin Carter, who should have been moved enough to hound out the predator,crouched in himself to get a better position for his photograph which just got an additional award winning element. He waited nearly twenty minutes for his best shot, but he never could make the vulture spread its wings. He chased away the hungry predator who waited for its meal only as soon as he got his clip on his film.The St.Petersburg Times of Florida criticized his act, “He might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene”. Nobody knows what has happened to the child after it got itself to the food station, neither did Kevin care.

The photograph showed us the sufferings of the famished people as well as the callousness of the photographer himself.The appreciation which came along with his new project however didn’t last long.He was dejected,miserable and down in the dumps with the guilt that haunted him through then.He was disapproved of his ruthless act by his friends and family members.All the gala came to end when two months past receiving his Pulitzer prize, in July 27 1994,Kevin Carter took his own life at the age of 33 by funneling the fumes of his car’s exhaust which killed him by carbon monoxide poisoning. Nevertheless, as against the claims by fresh sprung rumors, Kevin Carter’s death couldn’t be coupled with the Sudanese child alone.There were many background dramas going around due to the agony,violence and shootouts he had to face during his vocation as a photojournalist in Africa during the 1980s. Carter and his friends were on their move to bring out the brutal side of Apartheid to the outer world when the world around stamped them ‘the Bang Bang Club’ ,which then became their long known title.Besides, the event which shook him the most was the death of his friend Ken Oosterbroek during a violence in Tokowa in 1994,only six days after he received the Pulitzer.The constant atrocities he had to be in front of had torn him apart. 

His suicide note says:

 ” I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”

This leaves us with a perfect paradigm of calamity one’s profession could bring in.Kevin Carter, didn’t have to explain the picture in words,it spoke by itself.

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