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What would you have done?

The vulture is waiting for the girl to die and to eat her. The photograph was taken by South African photojournalist, Kevin Carter, while on assignment to Sudan. He took his own life a couple of month later due to depression.
In March 1993 Kevin Carter made a trip to Sudan. Near the village of Ayod, Carter found a girl who had stopped to rest while struggling to a United Nations feeding centre, whereupon a vulture had landed nearby. Careful not to disturb the bird, he waited for twenty minutes until the vulture was close enough, positioned himself for the best possible image and only then chased the vulture away. At this point Carter was probably not yet aware that he had shot one of the most controversial photographs in the history of photojournalism.
“The parents of the children were busy taking food from the plane, so they had left their children only briefly while they collected the food. This was the situation for the girl in the photo taken by Carter. A vulture landed behind the girl. To get the two in focus, Carter approached the scene very slowly so as not to scare the vulture away and took a photo from approximately 10 meters. He took a few more photos before chasing the bird away”.
The photograph was sold to The New York Times where it appeared for the first time on March 26, 1993. Practically overnight hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask whether the child had survived, leading the newspaper to run a special editor’s note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but that her ultimate fate was unknown. Because of this, Carter was bombarded with questions about why he did not help the girl, and only used her to take a photograph.
As with many dramatic photographs, Carter came under criticism for this shot. The St. Petersburg Times in Florida wrote: “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”. The attitude that public opinion condemned was not only that of taking the picture instead of chasing the vulture immediately away, but also the fact that he did not help the girl afterwards –as Carter explained later- leaving her in such a weak condition to continue the march by her self towards the feeding center.
However, Carter was working in a time when photojournalists were told not to touch famine victims for fear of spreading disease. Carter estimated that there were twenty people per hour dying at the food center. The child was not unique. Regardless, Carter often expressed regret that he had not done anything to help the girl, even though there was not much that he could have done.
In 1994, Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer prize for the disturbing photograph of a Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture. That same year, Kevin Carter committed suicide. (story credit: BoredPanda)


FrostyJim 7 Sep 8

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I would have taken the girl. No doubt ever! In my world you never leave anything suffering! EVER>


I'm no photographer.. I would've chased the vulture away and got food and water for that girl...


Disturbing pic , this neutrality in situations can be taken too far. Get the shot then worry about the person is basically sick all for sensationalism , no wonder he took his life . its too much of a toll on all . I just speak from my experience in battle situations I never just stood by.


He did what he thought it was right , and I have no opinion .
I know what I will had done . Take the pic , then pick up that body and take her wherever she needs to be .
I know my tribe will give me whatever medicine I need .
Also , from my experiance in Africa ( 2 tours / volunteer ), we were heavily on prophylactic meds 2 months b4 arrival and up to 3 months when back home . Plus vaccines .
I don’t know . I just know that I will had pick her up and start walking .

I have encountered a slightly different version of the back-story of this photo. . . That the photographer expressed a desire to help the girl but was discouraged by his guides who noted you can not help her because there is not enough food. In the first version I read the author noted the photographer killed himself out of a sense of regret for not helping the girl. In this version, the article left it open to interpret he may have killed himself as a result of the experience and negative feedback he received after the photo was published. If 20 people an hour were dying of starvation and he was there with what I would guess to be insufficient resources to help feed (keep alive) roughly 400 a day, 20,000 died in Sudan during that famine with another 100,000 leaving) I could see how this experience could haunt a person.

@NoMagicCookie I can’t imagine . 🙁🙁.
What a job too . Probably more than a job .


The world needed to see that photo. He may have saved many lives. I would challenge the critics to take a break from their frivolous spending to pitch in.


I think those who complained were indulging in a little self indulgent blame shifting.
This photo made me feel bad
I am unable and unwilling to help this child
Therefore I will blame the photographer for making me feel guilty
I will blame him for not helping, when I know I should and am able
But I don't want to, because I need a new gear stick knob for my Ferrari


I'm sure we do not know everything about this tragedy.


I can understand the moral dilemma Carter found himself in, and am saddened at him taking his own life. People are too quick to make judgement on others without having the empathy to put themselves in their shoes. This child was only one of countless children affected by this famine, his job was not to go there and rescue them, or feed them, there were other agencies doing that job, his was to bring their plight to the notice of rest of the world. He did that with great skill and effect, jolting our consciousness with his images. As a man of compassion and empathy he wished he could have saved and helped all the children, but that would have been an impossible task, instead he was working in his own way at saving them by using this image of this one child to startling effect. The approbation by armchair critics probably contributed to his suicide, but just working in this environment would already have been harrowing enough to drive him to it.


Not sure what the second guessing is about. You can take the picture and then scare the bird away and also leave some food and water for the child without touching them. "...even though there was not much that he could have done." I bet he had water with him and it wouldn't surprise me if he also had a little food. Anyone seeing that scene and walking away from it for any reason, without doing anything about it, is heartless.

Forget that scene. Today, if you saw a little girl in that situation in your town would you leave her alone? Would you take a picture of her to put it in the paper and walk away? I bought a homeless person lunch who was sitting outside of a Burger King, never touched the person and they weren't even on the verge of death.

lerlo Level 8 Sep 8, 2020

Every one of us is in that position in some way. We know there are weak, starving, and sick out there we could help. And yet we don't. He just had a more direct contact with person than most of us.

The 1% in the US alone have trillions of spare dollars squandered on multiple mansions, mega yachts, car collections, million dollar parties, art, jewellery, toys, private jets, invested in companies doing heinous things, etc. etc. But we don't see them crying themselves to sleep or committing suicide over the tens of thousands of needless deaths per day. Why is that? How can any of us deal with that?


What a tough position to be in! Given what he did and didn't know at the time, I think that he did the right thing. "When we know better, we do better", or so I've heard.

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