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Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo That Haunts Me

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posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 04:02 PM
In 1994, Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer prize for a photo showing a vulture stalking an infant girl in the Sudan. He was told that journalists should not come in contact with the people there, as he may contract a disease. He then waited 20 minutes to get a good shot of the vulture spreading it's wings, nad he left the girl there, about 1 kilometer from the UN Camp.

Born in 1960, Kevin Carter was an award winning South African photojournalist. He began his career photographing scenes of the violent struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. However, it was a 1993 picture of a famine victim in Sudan that would change his life forever.

"He heard a soft, high-pitched whimpering and saw a tiny girl trying to make her way to the feeding center. As he crouched to photograph her, a vulture landed in view. Careful not to disturb the bird, he positioned himself for the best possible image. He would later say he waited about 20 minutes, hoping the vulture would spread its wings. It did not, and after he took his photographs, he chased the bird away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle."

This picture earned Carter the 1994 Pullitzer Prize for feature photography. "I swear I got the most applause of anybody," Carter wrote back to his parents in Johannesburg. "I can't wait to show you the trophy. It is the most precious thing, and the highest acknowledgment of my work I could receive." Carter's joy would not last

Friends and colleagues would come to question why he had not done more to help the child in the photograph? "The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering," said the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, "might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene."

Burdened with feelings of guilt and sadness, Kevin Carter took his own life On July 27, 1994. His suicide note stated in part, "...I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain . . . of starving or wounded children..."

Kevin Carter

I can not get that picture out of my head now. All I can think about is that poor, little girl trying to crawl to safety, stomach racked with hunger pangs, as a vulture stalks her, waiting for the end, and a meal.

This brings the question of responsible journalism to the forefront. He was told not to touch any inhabitants, because he may contract a disease. But, is there any disease that would stop a person from helping this child? He also didn't try to chase the vulture away, and also didn't run bacl to the camp to try and get some help, as he didn't know what happened to the little girl.

I know this man ended his life, and that his depression was caused by his inactions, but I really feel no sorrow for him.

I don't know if there is any disease on Earth that could have stopped me from trying to help that little girl. But, I am also not trying to win a Pulitzer..........

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 06:17 PM
I have never seen that photo before, but it certainly did make my heart ache.

To counter point what you said, just for the sake of argument, if you were on location in Sudan as a journalist, saving every heart-wrenching case that you came along would prevent you from doing your job. In that case, you would have to become an Ambassador. That being said, this may be the most widely publizied photo he had, but what other horrors did he witness that we did not, simply because those were not "Pulitzer-Worthy"?

I also think that he killed himself, not because he couldn't take it, but because he was publically "judged", and couldn't bear that guilt.

Humans are awfully selfish. Would disease stop me from helping? Perhaps it would have. And then I would face the moral dilemma that Kevin did.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 06:30 PM
I would have found a way to get that baby back to the camp. They would have dragged be kicking and screaming away from her. The last thing that would've crossed my mine was disease. But that's just me.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 06:48 PM
Those events are enough to corrupt a persons mind into thinking any which way.

Depression sets in and that is the begining, then you are judged by your peers. Guilt then takes over and the event of your past haunt you in the present. You cant get those visions out of your mind, you are on the verg of insanity.... This is the evil at work. Call it what you like, I'll call it the Devil.

In every way he would have witnessed hell on earth, and in the end the evil was far greater than him.

I have pitty for anyone that has to deal with those events and situations, they are in all ways hellish.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 06:54 PM
It is really sad, but he must have seen lots of people in a similar situation, you can't save them all.

I imagine viewing the scene through a camera tends to make you step back from the immediacy of the situation.

But still if I were in the same situation I would hope that my humanity would force me to help the child.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 07:11 PM
This is exactly why I would never make it working in scenarios such as this. Disease or not, I would have scooped that little girl up and carried her the rest of the way. I would have never been able to live with myself if I had done nothing. That incident would have haunted me the rest of my life. I understand that you can’t save them all, but for Gods sake that was an impending disaster that could have easily been averted. It seems to me that this guy might have just separated himself from the reality of the situation, hid behind his camera, and took a shot that he knew would “sell” big time. In the end though, it seems that maybe he couldn’t live with his decisions and the horrors that he had experienced on his journeys.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 07:14 PM
I am numb.

Isn't there something in every human being that makes us better than the animals? Something that would compel you to take a chance on maybe catching a disease that you are healthy enough to fight off, to save a child facing almost certain death (if not from the vulture, then from starvation)?

The scariest thing to me is not that the man committed suicide over this, perhaps from the weight of his regrets, not even that the child was left to fend for herself, no - to me the saddest part is the fact that this photo won a Pulitzer in the first place.

What - really WHAT have we come to?

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 08:40 PM

Originally posted by psychosgirl
I would have found a way to get that baby back to the camp. They would have dragged be kicking and screaming away from her. The last thing that would've crossed my mine was disease. But that's just me.

God knows I agree with the sentiments. When I was in the service, I saw some heartbreaking things that I couldn't intervene and help those who needed help. A couple of reasons - one was that I had a mission to accomplish that I couldn't compromise. A second reason is that there was just no possible way to help a fraction of the people who desperately needed it. After a while - a very short while, you become inured to human misery - if you don't, you will go insane in short order.

This is why I recommend that people support organizations like Doctors without Borders. The good work they do may be a drop in the bucket, but it is a start.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 08:58 PM
That is a very disturbing photograph and I know that most here voice distain for his actions. The quote said that he did scare the vulture away....but that seems to be all he did for her.

I try not to judge others, as it is not possible to know why they do what they do.

I also find it very sad that he committed suicide.....

Personally, I would have helped her

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 08:58 PM
The part that gets me is that he WAITED for 20 minutes to get the perfect shot. That says it all. He wasn't a soldier,on a mission,he was a photographer in search of a money making photo. I am not suprised at all that he commited suicide,once the quest for fame and fortune came to fruition.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 09:14 PM
It is a heart wrenching photo. I am sure this journalist had become hardened to humanity to a degree, but it seems he lost his humanity for the sake of photography.

It caught up to him when his lack of compassion was pointed out. It was so far gone, he didn't realize it. When the reality of it all crashed down on him, it was probably too much to bear.

I pity the man. It seems he lost his soul for the sake of catching that prize winning photo.

And, though you can't help them all, I would not leave a dog laying there in distress. Nonetheless a small helpless child.

When you are a soldier, and many things are at stake, you do your duty. Many are depending on you. When you are a photographer, you look for that special photo and I can understand waiting a couple of minutes to catch it. You are not there saving lives. You are there for selfish purposes. No one is relying on you but your wallet.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 09:30 PM
"He waited 20 minutes hoping the vulture would spread its wings."

How could a human being do that and still consider themselves a human being? It's not my place to judge the man and since he's long gone i'm sure if any judging needed to be done, it has.

This photo has given me a whole new perception on what pornography actually is. Sadly though, it reflects just how terrible we are still capable of being.


posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 01:56 AM
What did he think was going to happen when the vulture finally did catch up with the little girl? Look at the size of the thing. I assume the journalist just put it out of his mind and concentrated on waiting until it was almost directly behind her before he took the shot(s). He put composition over the reality that this was a human being.

Very sad indeed.

But I also understand a little about the process of becoming more and more heartless and immune to things like poverty and starvation. Go to any affluent large city and pass a homeless person in the dead of winter sitting outside in the street begging, or living under a viaduct in a box. Note to yourself how you slow down a little as the fleeting emotions of what... disassociation? Guilt? Anger?...pass through your mind as you speed up again and forget about it. If that was the person's last day and they froze before reaching morning, I'm sure some of us would feel very bad indeed. But we try not to think about it. Someone else will help. Someone else will give something...

Quite possibly that is how he viewed it. Who knows what his camera lens had seen before. He was probably pretty tough from experiencing it all. As a professional, his job was to stay focused on his object. No doubt, something may have also crossed his mind about how his shot was actually capturing an opportunity to show a devastating, social injustice - which he did brilliantly, as anyone can attest to by looking at this horrific, haunting image.

The reality of death is literally behind her.

Who knows... maybe he realised later that he had lost all his humanity and had nothing left but death himself.

And yes, I would have tried to help her - I would have fllung something heavy at the vulture, maybe my award winning cameras for a start.

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 05:34 AM
Thank god for photographers and journalists, or we wouldn't even know how bad it is.

If I had a penny for every time someone asks,"why aren't those journalists helping those people" I'd be rich.

Journalists are there to get the story out, so people who have the power to act meaningfully can act. It is these people (read you and me) who deserve the blame.

What was this journalist supposed to do? Carry the child to food? What food? The food he presumably had left after giving everything he had on him to the last 20 starving people? Even if he had any left, what does he do next, when the rest of the starving village comes to get the child's food? Throw a rock at the vulture. Would this make you feel better? Would you have stood at the levee in New Orleans and tried to beat back the ocean with a stick?

We all sit and look at the photo and shake our heads, wishing we never saw it and could make it go away. Is it really the fact that someone took the photo that upsets us, or is it the fact that the photo was there to be taken?

You can't judge the photographer. Unless you were there with him, you have no right.

People like that girl are starving RIGHT NOW, and instead of getting off our asses and giving, we log on to the internet and talk about our revulsion. If you want to blame someone, blame us.

-koji K.

[edit on 20-10-2005 by koji_K]

[edit on 20-10-2005 by koji_K]

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 06:19 AM

Originally posted by koji_K

What was this journalist supposed to do? Carry the child to food? What food? The food he presumably had left after giving everything he had on him to the last 20 starving people? Even if he had any left, what does he do next, when the rest of the starving village comes to get the child's food? Throw a rock at the vulture. Would this make you feel better? Would you have stood at the levee in New Orleans and tried to beat back the ocean with a stick?

[edit on 20-10-2005 by koji_K]

The UN Camp was 1 kilometer away. That's where that poor girl was trying to crawl to. This is a single case scenario. One little girl, one vulture, and one photojournalist trying to get that prize-winning shot. There wasn't a whole village around. There wasn't a hurricane, or sandstorm or tornado. It was just him, who could have easily carried that girl his back for that 1 kilometer to the camp, dropped her off, and been on his way.

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 06:22 AM
I have to agree. How many of us would have walked away from this. He could have at the very least gotten help is he was that worried about disease. The girl was still alive for christ sake not some decaying corpse. Im glad he got the shot of a lifetime.

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 06:41 AM
So so sad - I don't think i have ever seen a photo like that.

Personally i could not have left her,I would have rather died with her than leave her there.
Thats just my personal take.

Why is life so worthless ? ......I don't see anyone helping this poor child.
or the other X0000's that are suffering on a daily basis.

Again £££ $$$ seems to be behind most explainations....I guess mankind is stucvk with Greed and accumalation for some time to come.
Maybe when we can genetically strip ourselfs of this trait things may improve..................I won't hold my breath though.

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 12:50 PM
Personally, I would have had to do something. I am haunted by memories of stray puppies that couldn't be rescued from the side of the road, I am sure that I would have realized I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I walked away from a child!

I wouldn't fault him for taking the photo.....if he had done somthing to save her afterward.......after all it would have brought attention to bear on the plight of this child and might have helped to save others......but to just leave her there??? He would have found it easier to live ( or die) with any disease, but IMHO, the guilt was too much.

posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 08:46 PM
As a Dad.

My first thought was save the child, Kill the photographer And let the Buzzard peck his eyeballs out.

But on reflection. There is men out there who have no Paternal instinct. Nor humanitarian instinct at all.

Is he truly a "Man"?

posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 12:32 AM
You have voted koji_K for the Way Above Top Secret award.

Thank you koji for an island of logic in a sea of emotion.

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