Obituary: Kevin Carter

Kevin Carter, photographer: born Johannesburg 13 September 1960; died Johannesburg 27 July 1994.

KEVIN CARTER was the third South African photographer to die this year, the first to do so by his own hand. Abdul Shariff and Carter's best friend, Ken Oosterbroek, fell to stray bullets in the township wars. Carter, who won a Pulitzer prize this year, was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his car on Wednesday.

The photograph which won him the Pulitzer showed a vulture eyeing a starving, skeletal Sudanese child. Upon returning barely two weeks ago from the Pulitzer ceremony in New York, where he also picked up a contract with Time magazine, he told friends he felt he had the world at his feet.

What torments drove him to undergo a mood-swing so calamitously abrupt is a question best left to his family and close friends to contemplate. What journalists in South Africa know is that he was one of those photographers who live life on the extreme edge, who routinely encounter a degree of horror, sorrow and danger comparable only to the experience of a soldier at a time of war. His work for a number of South African newspapers will best be remembered for the harrowing scenes of township violence he would capture day in day out during the four violent years which preceded majority rule.

He was as talented as he was brave. At times recklessly, self-destructively brave. On the morning after Oosterbroek was killed Carter was back again in the very same township, Thokoza, at 5am.

His friends said that one thing that distinguished him from many of his colleagues was a passionate involvement with the people and places where he worked. He could not keep himself at one remove from his subjects. He lacked the emotional armour-plating characteristic of the front-line photographer. After taking the picture of the little Sudanese child he sat down, smoked a packet of cigarettes and wept for four hours.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project