“Seeking relief from the sight of masses of people starving to death, he wandered into the open bush. 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. Afterward he sat under a tree, lit a cigarette, talked to God and cried. “He was depressed afterward,” Silva recalls. “He kept saying he wanted to hug his daughter.”
On 27 July 1994 Carter drove to the Braamfontein Spruit river, near the Field and Study Centre, an area where he used to play as a child, and took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the passenger-side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 33. Portions of Carter’s suicide note read:
“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 [recently deceased colleague Ken Oosterbroek] if I am that lucky.”
If you are interested in the life and work of Kevin Carter and fellow photojournalists working in South Africa in the early 90′s, check out the film “The Bang-Bang Club.”
The Bang Bang Club was the name given to four young photographers; Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva, whose photographs captured the final bloody days of white rule in South Africa. Two were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for their acclaimed work. The film tells the remarkable and sometimes harrowing story of these young men – and the extraordinary extremes they went to in order to capture their pictures. Robin (Malin Akerman) is their photo-editor, who looked out for them, protected them and made sure their photographs were seen across the world. Based on the book by Marinovich and Silva, The Bang Bang Club tells the true story of these four young men, recounting their relationships with each other and the stresses, tensions and moral dilemmas of working in situations of extreme violence, pain and suffering. It is also the story of the final demise of apartheid and the birth of a new South Africa.
At the end of apartheid in South Africa, four photographers, The Bang Bang Club, captured some of the most compelling pictures of the transition to democracy.
Unlike other photographers, members of the ‘Bang Bang Club’ ventured into black townships to witness scenes of bloody battles. Spurred on by adrenaline, they placed their lives in danger to capture the events that most whites were unaware of.