there is a very real ethical dimension to photography which i feel is too often neglected by people behind the lens. i am not just talking about media photographers. i am talking about anyone who has a camera in general.
this photograph showing a starving sudanese child being stalked by a vulture won kevin carter the 1994 pulitzer prize for feature photography. the photograph, raised a lot of money for relief agencies. the photographer, on the other hand, came under very heavy criticism by the public and agencies alike. in a time and place where 20 people die of starvation every hour, could the photographer have done something to save the child?
the photograph was taken in march 1993 near the village of ayod in sudan. according to time, the photographer heard a whimpering which attracted him to the toddler who was on her way to a feeding center. she had stopped to rest when a vulture landed nearby. the photographer had waited 20 minutes for the vulture to spread its wings, but it did not. so he shot this photo before chasing the vulture away.
this photo was first published in the new york times on 26 march 1993.
the criticism which falls photographers is obvious. our commitment to our job versus our moral obligations. is some way or another, we are sometimes faced with the dilemma of helping or photographing.
according to the national association of press photographers (america), it is a good idea to think about these issues in advance because when the hour comes, it will come suddenly and we will be asked to make a choice quickly. maybe it won’t be famine. but it might be an accident or a fire. would you be the one who captured the explosion of the fire, or be the one to rescue the victims of the accident?
i personally believe in moral obligations. but that is not for you to agree with, but for you to make up your own mind. in defense of kevin carter, the photo he took did raise public consciousness of the famine conditions of sudan. but that is his contribution to the world. the weight and responsibility towards what he owed the child would be something he carried in his soul for he rest of his life.
several months after receiving the pulitzer for the photo that made the world weep, kevin carter returned to africa, where he committed suicide.
at what point do you put the camera down and help? at what point does your humanity become more important than your journalism?