School Essay: Kevin Carter

This is one blog that is not about pictures I take. I had to write an essay on the Photojournalist of my choice for school. I had the choice of choosing someone who is current, or who has passed. Since I am very new to this, I do not know of any photojournalist off the top of my head. So this is when google really comes in handy. After looking at two other photojournalist, I then came upon Kevin Carter. Below is the 750 word Essay about him, his life, and his career. For anyone who is interested, it is for you to read. Also, I did get a good grade on this essay. Even more reason I wanted to share!

Kevin Carter

When I began research on writing an essay on a photojournalist, Kevin Carter’s Prize winning image of a starving South African girl reaching for food with a hooded vulture gleaming over her intrigued me and caught my curiosity. When I dug deeper into this man, I was moved by Kevin’s journey that led to that photo. I could understand his strong moments, as well as his personal struggles and depression that eventually lead to his death. I am inspired, yet at the same time devastated, which I believe can be a definition for many who call themselves journalist.

As a young boy, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kevin Carter witnessed first hand discrimination against the black community. His parents accepted apartheid, but he chose not to. At an early age he saw the wrong and injustice that was taking place, which I believe is what inspired and drove him to choose the career path in photojournalism later in life. He had a drive to do something about the problems that were going on, but didn’t know what to do at the time. Another event that took place in his life, while in the Air Force, was witnessing a black mess-hall waiter being insulted. Kevin took a stand for this man, while also enduring suffering by being beaten by other service men. What I like about Kevin Carter : He made his own opinions and judgements on the suffering towards others around him. He had compassion, and had courage to stand up for those who were wronged. As clearly seen later in his career, He desired to make that known through photographs.

I believe through the discrimination, and through his own suffering by others, he was moved to make a difference through pictures. He made an awareness of war, famine, and death that was going on in South Africa at the time. He made a breakthrough in the hearts of people which caused them to want to stand up and take action. The beginning of that was when he joined with other photographers, also known at “The Bang Bang Club”, who felt the same as he, and wanted to expose the brutality of apartheid. “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,” says American photojournalist James Nachtwey (Quote taken from Time Magazine Article,9171,165071,00.html.). What I like about Kevin Carter: He had the bravery and guts to go where most people would prefer to stand back; to get a message across to the world that a change needs to be made for those who cannot take care of themselves. The images he captured in South Africa of famine and desperations proved to the world how blessed they are with their normal, everyday living. The images he captured of war showed the horror, trauma and consequences that war can bring on both sides of fighting. Kevin Carter chose this path despite how difficult it would be.

Kevin Carter’s story is an inspiring one. However, it does not have a happy ending. Much of the hardships that he photographed damaged him inside. He made several mistakes such as late shipments of film, giving poor quality pictures, and leaving behind undeveloped film on his seat on a plane. which was not recovered. He suffered from anxiety, and struggled to cope and let go of the sights in which he saw. Also to experience the loss of Ken Oosterbroek, who was a fellow photographer and friend. As many other photojournalist did to get through work, Kevin smoked Marijuana and smoked a “white pipe” with mixture of dagga and mantra. What I do not like about Kevin Carter: he used dangerous means to get through life, which later affected his personal life in negative ways, such as not fulfilling assignments, and even crashing his car. He was not made complete in relationships. And later struggled to pay child support to a child he had out of wedlock. While the picture he took in the Sudan of the starving girl reached fame and a Prize, it could not bring him closure. He committed suicide at age thirty-three on July 27th, 1994. What I don’t like about Kevin Carter: as a result of what he endured, he felt he could not live life any longer. It brings out defeat. The ending of this story is a sad one; which leaves me to feel for a man who had such strong qualities only to end in weakness.



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