We would like you to join us for a story of a man named Kevin Carter and his life as a photojournalist. We will also be speaking about the prizes the photojournalist can receive, the role of the photojournalist, and the impact of the photos and their moral issues.
Kevin Cater was born In South Africa in the 1960ies, in an all-white community. He was constantly bombarded with hearing and seeing the injustice bestowed upon the black people. He was not in accordance.
He joined the army and witnessed a black mess-hall waiter being insulted. He defended the man, which ended with him being badly beaten. A year later Kevin witnessed a street bombing which ultimately led him to decide to become a news photographer in 1983.
Kevin started off as a sports photographer but quickly decided to use photography to expose the brutality in South Africa after a government change, and joined The Star newspaper and the Bang Bang Club.
“They put themselves in face of danger, were arrested numerous times, but never quit. They literally were willing to sacrifice themselves for what they believed in.”
Their willingness to go where most photojournalists dared not was rewarded numerous times with stunning exclusive photos of the action out in the townships of South Africa.
In 1990 Greg Marinovich captured a series of photos of a suspected spy being stabbed and set afire that won him the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography. This gained the Bang Bang Club international recognition but also raised the stakes for the other members of the club.
Photojournalist are eligible for many awards but none are as recognized or sough after as the Pulitzer Prize. It is one of the highest honors in the world for writers, playwrights, poets and composers and currently has two categories relating to photojournalism. The award was established in 1917 at the request of then deceased Joseph Pulitzer who was also notably known for trying to set up the worlds first journalism school.
In March 1993 Kevin Carter and Joao Silva headed north of the border to cover the rebel movement in famine stricken Sudan. It didn’t take long after their plane landed near Ayod for Carter to take what might be considered one of the most controversial photographs in the history of photojournalism. He and Silva had been working around a overcrowded UN feeding center. A little distressed by the sight of masses of people dying of hunger Carter took a stroll in the bush and came upon a young emancipated African girl struggling towards the feeding center. As she stopped to rest still unaware of his presence, he crouched down to get a better angle and just then a vulture landed behind the little girl. Carter carefully repositioned for the best possible framing and started shooting. After about 20 minutes he chased the vulture away and the girl continued crawling towards the feeding center.
The photograph first appeared on the third page of the New York Times March 26 1993 issue and immediately drew attention. Overnight the paper received numerous letters and phone calls asking about the fate of the young girl. Within days the photograph, which by then had appeared in hundreds of newspapers around the world, became a international icon of Africa’s suffering. On April 12 1994 he was notified that he had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the photo. With the fame came fierce criticism, many still wondering why he hadn’t helped the girl.
His job as a journalist to show the plight of the Sudanese had been completed, exceeded, in fact. The bottom line was that Lifeline Sudan had not flown in Kevin and João to pick up or feed children – they were flown in to show the worst of the famine and generate publicity.
– Greg Marinovich
The field of photojournalism exists in an ethical grey zone. Debates regarding the moral obligations of photojournalist are timeless. If the photojournalist’s job is to report and tell a story they must remain objective not become part of it. This obligation to take a picture instead of putting the camera down and physically helping or intervening troubles many people including some photojournalist themselves. This internal conflict is noted by Kevin Carter after he took pictures of “necklacing ceremony”, “I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures… then I felt that maybe my actions hadn’t been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing to do.” Seeing the social impact his picture had, reassured him that these stories needed to be told and by telling them he was helping, but not everyone shared that sentiment. As his career continued he learned that the intended impact of an image wasn’t always the same as the one that was perceived. Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo of the girl and the vulture was intended to tell the suffering of the Sudanese people and mobilize awareness for social change. This was one outcome of the image, the other was anger and outcry at Kevin Carter for taking the picture instead of helping the girl. This critical reaction to his photo is believed to have taken a serious toll on Carter.
Mei Lai –
The role of a Photojournalist.
What does the word – Ethics means in photo journalism?
The reason I asked this is because Ethics is the core principle of what journalism is about.
” Truthfulness ”
The role of a Photojournalist is to capture images as they happen rather than staging and somewhat recreating
The images should speak ” TRUTH” – the images you see behind me are images that do that.
Two examples of violating Ethics –
- If a photographer asked the person to pose it would be story telling not an actual event that happened naturally.
- All manipulation to the photographs, such as editing software.
– As mentioned previously by my teammate – Justin – Kevin Carter’s award winning photograph – gained instant fame & heavy criticism.
The St. Petersburg Times in Florida said this of Carter: “The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene.”
Kevin endured heavy critism – he did fall into a deep depression.
We all know that there are physical dangers associated with being a photojournalist, however there are psychological consequences as well- such as post drama stress disorders, depression. A study has shown – the more assignments taken by photographers, witnessing death and injury takes a toll. Unfortunately for Kevin Carter this was the case for him- his life spiraled out of control and on July 27, 1994, he commited suicide.
Excerpt from his suicide note –
“I’m really, really sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist…depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & 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.”
We wanted to thank you for taking the time to listen to us and hope you learned a bit about Photojournalism through our presentation.