The mystery behind controversial photographs

Social responsibility or award winning photography?




Worlds Saddest Photo   Photographer Commits Suicide 3 Days After Taking This

Who would forget about this eerie picture that shocked the world with the true condition of Sudan South Africa? This was taken way back 1993 by Kevin Carter. A Sudan girl trying to reach a food station in their place stops to rest. A vulture then landed close to her waiting for the poor girl to die so it can nibble on her body.

I was appalled at what they were doing, I was appalled at what I was doing, but then people started talking about those pictures, and 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.
- Kevin Carter

Kevin Carter is an award-winning photographer who in his early life started in the field of medicine as a pharmacist; but later joined the army because of unsure feelings. After witnessing a church street bombing, he then decided to take the field of photography. His work shown above is an entry in the Pulitzer where he won the prize. Speculations and controversies spread like a viral infection when this photo came out in March 1993. All of this photo’s audience asks about the condition of the little girl and whether the photographer stops and helps the poor Sudan girl. He was bombarded with criticisms on not helping or assisting the girl; but anyhow, the girl is reported to manage her way to the food station.

 "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."- St. Petersburg Times

The girl shown in the picture isn’t dead that very moment. Because of the extreme famine stirring in the place, children are all malnourished and the feeding station is their only hope to supply nutrients with their body. I myself felt something when I saw and read about this picture. I was thinking about photography topics to write when this photo caught my attention. So now I’m writing about controversial photographs, photography works that made their creators famous but soundless forever.

After a year this photograph has been published, the photographer Kevin carter commits suicide and no one knows why. Rumor says he killed himself because of depression and lack of financial stability. Some says he commit suicide because he felt guilty not helping the girl who he uses as a subject that gave him fame. Anyway, Kevin carter isn’t the only photographer who commits suicide, there are many of them; I think is just one of the consequences of journalism. Journalists whether photographer, writer, or newscaster always wanted to come across the truth; but when the truth hits them? They just can’t stand what it truly wants to show us. 

The volcano victim

A photo captured by Frank Fournier is another controversial photograph that will surely caught your attention. This was captured an hour before the girl in the picture died; looking at the girl's face makes me feel anxious. This is Omayra Sánchez, a 13-year-old girl trapped in the remains of their own house after the Nevado Del Ruiz volcano erupted. She was stuck in a situation where her only hope is the help of this photographer taking her picture. She’s trapped for three days in the water up to her neck. The Red Cross warned the local authorities of that place about the girl because they won’t be able to make it on time. She died of hypothermia.   

Frank Fournier is a French photographer who, like Kevin Carter started in the field of medicine. He studied medicine for four years maybe going after the footsteps of his father who’s a surgeon. 

 Here are the other Photographers who committed suicide



Diane Arbus is an American photographer famous for her deviant photography subjects. Most of her black and white square formatted pictures showcase out of the ordinary people who suffers illness like dwarfism and other related disorder. She committed suicide by taking in barbiturates and cutting her wrist with a razor. 


Pierre Molinier specializes in erotic photography. He was even controversial with taking photographs of his own sister’s corpse after having sexual intercourse with it. He took his own life by shooting himself immediately after masturbation. 


Bob Carlos Clarke is another erotic photographer who suffers from depression and later took his own life by jumping in a fast approaching train in London. 


Some of the people may think that art is a slave of human imaginary, but well in fact, we are the slaves of arts. Art is used to express our thoughts and ideas that we cannot orally utter; instead, we choose to tell stories with the use of different art medium or vehicle. Painting, photography, sculpture, and the like are just some of the subdivisions of art. When we get to the point where truth is all we wanted to see and show the world, we become slaves of our own artistic cleverness. These photographers, bizarre or not, just wanted to show us how they see the world with their own eyes. They may see something that not all of us can perceive. It is just but sad that they didn’t have the courage to fight depression and sadness like how they fight criticisms of their works. They fought with the whole world by being themselves and showing how weird they think; but they didn’t stand to fought depression that’s swallowing their identity. Most of us will judge them the very moment we laid our eyes on their works; but have we tried looking beyond the image they’re trying to show us? Kevin Carter may not have assisted the little girl but are we sure he didn’t thought about it? According to some articles that I have read, by the time that Carter’s doing photography in South Africa, photographers are not allowed to touch any of the people there to prevent transferring diseases. He might have thought of saving that girl, he’s not just in the right position to offer his hands to the girl that very moment. One of his colleague even said that he’s standing 20 meters away from the girl when taking the shot. Come on! It’s a telephoto lens’ product and take note, he’s not the only photographer who took shots of the girl with the vulture, there are also other photographers standing with him taking their own shots; it’s just that his piece stands the best out among the others that’s why we get this rights of criticizing what he’s done.