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April 17, 2012 1:33 AM   Subscribe

The most Epic Photo Ever Taken? Quora users start adding their faourite pictures. History, awesome, pain, anger, death, it's al here. And at least one surfer.
posted by ewan (70 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pity it was cloudy that day or I could probably make out the building where I live.
posted by three blind mice at 1:37 AM on April 17, 2012


FYI, people eating their breakfast while they click on that link - the famous photograph of a monk on fire is in there.
posted by mippy at 1:49 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any idea if there's a place where I could get a print, poster, or something of The Pale Blue Dot?
posted by ZaneJ. at 1:56 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess I have lived a long time. When I flipped through, I could remember how I felt seeing the photo the first time - especially the ones from news events. Feels strange to go through so much history in one sitting.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:58 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow.
posted by archagon at 2:50 AM on April 17, 2012


A couple of themes stand out:Without wanting to trivialise such images and the effort involved, I feel that 'epic' is best applied to the likes of high speed photography [previously I, II], which never grows old, and other technically sophisticated approaches. I had to go quite a long way down the thread to see any images along these lines.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:03 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


A lot of epic and historical photos there. I hadn't seen the bison skull mountain, that's tragic (not that others aren't).
posted by arcticseal at 3:19 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


From a photographic point of view as far as a photographer *creating* an artistic photo out of an event, I've got to give a nod to the "Fireworks, Comet, and Lightning in Australia" photo.
You've got three notoriously difficult subjects to capture, in a relatively uncontrolled (or at least, not under "your" control) situation, and limited opportunity to capture it.

Many of the photos are journalistic in nature, and amount to more or less "being in the right place at the right time, and managing to snap your shutter at the correct dramatic moment or subject. Others involve a more discerning artistic eye (the portrait of the Afghan girl, the mother bathing her blind daughter, etc.)

The Astronomy & outer space photos are certainly "epic" but they tend to say much more about astronomy and space exploration than they do about photography. "Earthrise" is most definitely an "epic" photo for what it shows and tells, but again it was more of a case of three guys finding themselves in an incredible situation and snapping away. (they're not even sure who took the iconic version of the photo at this point)

Ansel Adams' shots at Yosemite fall on the other end of the spectrum, in that this is a subject that is freely available to anyone to photograph at any time, and it they are instead a testimony to his composition, vision, and technical skills. I'm certainly not going to diss Adams, but I'm not sure if "epic" is the correct superlative in this case.

As far as an epic event captured in an epic way resulting in an epic photograph, I'm still leaning toward the Fireworks in Australia. All the photos in that list are great in their own ways, though.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:28 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Astrophysical objects [example] and images of human conflict [example] or deprivation [example] seem to predominate

Indeed, humanity's greatest aspiration, and greatest weakness and liability. It's a statement on the function of the 'tool' within human society. The gun ensures the borders of a country, providing the peace and stability required to mount a space programme. The gun is used by the same country in capacities costing countless lives from many different nations, including itself.

That theme goes much further, for in some images, we see things we want be or experience. In others, we see things that we never wish to experience, but are captivated by -- the primal nature of a forest fire. And for some, they are a reminder of the darkness that lurks within us all. The potential to be those soldiers or their victims.

A mate in college proposed an experiment in identity that was denied by the Psychology ethics committee for reasons never explained beyond, "Not appropriate for this course". It was a concentration camp photograph where the subject would be asked to choose which person he would be in the photograph without any further details. I will not describe the photograph in detail however one very similar is present on the Quora link. He 'validated' it on a few classmates, and the response that surprised him the most was that several people went beyond the handful of direct subjects in focus in the centre of the frame. Their replies included "I was that one, the one in the hole." or "I'm the photographer." or "I'm that man's wife."

In writing about it, perhaps it was rejected because whilst the results are certainly interesting, it was not adequately well-bounded.

Regardless, it was facinating who people chose to be, and how many people chose the most passive roles present in atrocity. Granted, many said, "I am the man with the gun to his head." and a few said, "I am the man holding the gun". The follow-up was then obviously why. Pity it never went further, but I digress.

The theme of the heavens or death is really hardwired into us it seems, if these are the most epic photos. There is also the chance there is a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, as these photos are also probably some of the most available on the internet -- many of which have won photography contests time and time again.

Yet that theme is fascinting. We're fascinated by the places we can only imagine, and actions that we find deplorable. Perhaps that is how most of us can define meaning. We'll never explore Titan, and we'll never be in a war zone. We're thankful that we'll never be 50 meters from a forest fire, and grateful that the majority of us thus far have only seen the atom bomb in photographs.

Pale Blue Dot is the one that personally connects the most, for Pale Blue Dot is the package for all the rest. Even the deep space photographs were meaningless streams of numbers transmitted across space until our technology assembled them into 'something'. Pale Blue Dot shows our de facto irrelevance on the grand stage; that all of this beauty and all of the conflict occurs in a brief flash. In a society where unseen computers compound interest on loans, and heaps of attention is paid to a relatively tiny proportion of the population, whether Madonna or Wen Jaibao or Richard Branson or Snooky. Where personal problems seem so paramount, Pale Blue Dot reminds us of both our irrelevancy and our interdependence.

That person on the bus next to us? They're all we've got in a massive universe. It's been said that peace cannot come to the world until the aliens arrive, for then humanity can be united. Even the most deeply racist of individuals will recognise his similarity to all other humans when presented with alien lifeforms. Thus, Pale Blue Dot is perhaps the greatest expression of hope -- that one day, we will come to understand we're all in this together, and this is really all we have.

Great find and @Talkie Toaster, great themes...
posted by nickrussell at 3:34 AM on April 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


I like the pictures but the whole premise seems bizarre to me. How do we judge images? Some photographs are beautiful because they are well composed. Other photographs are interesting because they show important moments of human history. Some images have a cultural resonance - an identification with a cultural moment - and evoke specific emotions associated with those moments.

The word "epic" doesn't really mean that much to me. What are the most epic letters of the alphabet? What are the most epic foods? The Internet likes "top ten" lists. Or lists of epic things. To me it doesn't mean that much, except as an excuse to list a lot of cool images. These are pretty cool. Or epic.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:41 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


(they're not even sure who took the iconic version of the photo at this point)

Bill Anders has been credited for about 20 years.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:47 AM on April 17, 2012


I guess what surprised me is that the scale of the suggested 'epic' photographs stopped at the Hubble Deep Field (HDF). Do the WMAP7 CMB background-subtracted temperature anisotropy maps (images here) count as a photograph? If not, why not? It is no less a composite than the HDF.

Are we conflating 'epic' with 'pretty' or 'moving'?
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:48 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are we conflating 'epic' with 'pretty' or 'moving'?

epic meant epic stories, which were hero stories, thus epic::heroic.

Heroic means courageous, daring, and powerful, especially in terms of a powerful effect. With the photographs, I guess it's in the eye of the beholder what one considers to be heroic.
posted by nickrussell at 4:00 AM on April 17, 2012


I think this is an interesting exercise because it's different than when the Globe or the Times or even Time curates this kind of list; this one is curated, voted upon and ranked by the general (internet) population. Despite that, there's a lot of overlap with the photos we see at the top of the lists compiled by publication photo editors. But there are also some photos few people would have seen before, nominated from random Flickr streams, and they are ranking up there with the classics of photojournalism and space images. I love that. Together, it makes a remarkable and sobering body of images.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:18 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


epic meant epic stories, which were hero stories, thus epic::heroic.

It's being used as an adjective here, so it's heroic or grand in scale.

Earthrise or the Apollo 11 astronaut on the moon best fit that defintion. 400,000 people worked to send that sort of randomly selected guy 240,000 miles away and return him safely.

Also, Earthrise is widely credited for jump starting the Green movement.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:22 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have looked deeply now into this question of the meaning of the word "epic" because I had nothing better to do. I used a research tool called "the internet", which all of you should be aware of, and spent much more time on this question than I should have, given that I need that time to brush my teeth and go to bed. But I think I have the definitive answer.

The word "epic" comes from the Middle French épique or directly from the Latin epicus imported from the Greek word epikos, derived from epos meaning "word, story, poem," The Indo-European root form is connected with the same root as the word "voice". Quite clearly the word became associated with heroic tales, and heroic deeds in general.

More recent usage assigns a different semantics to this word. According the authoritative Urban Dictionary, the word epic is "the most overused word ever, next to fail. for even more asshole points, use them together to form "epic fail." The same source also includes a secondary definition: "A word, whose meaningful definition(s)and correct applications are now obscured and have been raped to death mostly by the 25 and under crowd. It has been overused as "the" catch phrase used to describe a situation, person, event, movie, taking a shit,etc."

I hope this makes everything epic.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:23 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is 'epic' better or worse than 'awesome'?
posted by pipeski at 4:30 AM on April 17, 2012


Bill Anders has been credited for about 20 years.

I guess "failed to agree upon" would be the more correct term. My personal favorite is the interview where Lovell claims that *he* in fact took the picture, although that interview was from over 20 years ago.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:39 AM on April 17, 2012


"awesome" is closely related to the word "awful", the Old English for "full of awe", in the sense of inspiring fear or respect. During the 1300s "awful" was a positive term. It wasn't until the 1800s that "awful" acquired its negative connotations. The word "awesome" is only just now acquiring negative connotations, mostly because people say it way too much.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:43 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Earthrise or the Apollo 11 astronaut on the moon best fit that defintion. 400,000 people worked to send that sort of randomly selected guy 240,000 miles away and return him safely.

That is an epic event, but the photo itself is kinda "meh," if you take my meaning. Since the premise of the article doesn't really qualify what "epic photo" means, we are free to interpret.

Is an epic photo simply a photo which captures, in a meaningful way, some epic deliberate event or achievement?

Can an epic photo capture a relatively mundane event in an "epic way" in order to raise awareness or create a greater impact or understanding of that event?

Maybe an epic photo is a one-in-a-billion chance natural event captured in a photograph that was achieved only due to some epic endeavor on the part of the photographer.

I think the fact that several themes seem to come up often in the list of photos indicates that there are indeed a few clearly delineated interpretations of "epic photo" being employed, all of which are valid.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:47 AM on April 17, 2012


"awesome" is closely related to the word "awful", the Old English for "full of awe",

I think "terrific" and "terrifying" are in the same boat.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:48 AM on April 17, 2012


What are the most epic letters of the alphabet?

Ä and Ö.

What are the most epic foods?

Bäcön.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:53 AM on April 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:04 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great pictures, but ohhh boy am I tired of seeing the word "epic" used to describe so many things that, well, aren't. It's like how local news reporters in my hometown would throw around words like "devastating" and "tragic" to describe events like an increase in bicycle thefts near the university.

While we're at it, Internet, are you finally over the whole "fail" thing yet?


Why yes, I did miss my afternoon nap today. Why do you ask?
posted by Kevtaro at 5:05 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we should start a "War On Epic", Kevtaro.
posted by panaceanot at 5:09 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are we conflating 'epic' with 'pretty' or 'moving'?

Part of what makes a user-curated thing like this interesting, I think, is that everyone's got a slightly different scale for what makes something "epic," and through this exhibit, those people's mindsets are also on display as well as the pictures. Disagree with them if you like as to whether Tienamen's "Tank Man" is "epic," but someone else somewhere probably disagrees with your own choice of "epic."

So these pictures aren't just pictures. They're each reader's very minds on display. Their very psyches, their specific values, distilled into a single image form.

Whoa.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:17 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What are the most epic foods?

I'm thinking of a plate of beans for some reason.
posted by Segundus at 5:18 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Little boy peeing on a military soldier in South America... EPIC!"

Many of the photos made me recoil with horror. So much death and destriction. And then a photo of a tiny child peeing on a soldiers head!
posted by greenhornet at 5:21 AM on April 17, 2012


"The Shipbreakers"
posted by Trurl at 5:26 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, did they use a flash? What kind of light was used to take this photo? Were I out in space at that point and turned toward earth, would it look like that to me? Or is this some kind of reconstruction and pale blue is a color correction?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:27 AM on April 17, 2012


None of the photos on the Quora thread appear to be staged --- Not to diminish the content of the pictures, but there are some that definitely wouldn't have occurred had there not been a camera to record the events. I'm thinking of the execution photo, and the immolation photo, particularly. And I have strong doubts about Eisenstadt's kiss.

And you do you suppose those scientists were sitting like that, and a portrait photographer just happened to wander by?
posted by crunchland at 5:33 AM on April 17, 2012


(ok. Maybe not "definitely wouldn't have occurred." Will you accept "probably wouldn't have occurred in just this way?")
posted by crunchland at 5:36 AM on April 17, 2012


I just found out the original photo of Aldrin on the Moon cuts off a little bit of the top of his pack including an antenna.
posted by gubo at 5:37 AM on April 17, 2012


Lots of historically significant shots are edited like that (though usually it's more about removing things than re-inserting things)

Some examples that spring to mind are the fencepost being edited out of the Kent State photo, (so that it no longer appears to be impaling Mary Ann Vecchio's head) and adding somewhat more dramatic smoke to the "Fall of the Reichstag" photo (as well as removing an extraneous wristwatch, which implied that the soldier had been looting)

Cropping and re-framing are frequent. (earthrise was shot with the moon's horizon oriented vertically; lots of other photos originally had much larger fields of vision, but have been cropped (often without the photographer's input) in order to focus attention on the important bits)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:44 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked this thread on best pictures taken from airplanes better. Precisely because I can gawk at the pictures' aesthetic beauty without being overwhelmed by history.
posted by the cydonian at 5:46 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


as much as the word "epic" bugs me (overuse, a linguistic crutch), it's a really good way to describe a lot of the photos.

the scale of many of the photos - and particularly, of the ones i liked best - is really significant and grandiose, referencing a much larger and more complex scene, a cross-section of a huge story.

and of course an 'epic' photo has to, right? a photo being worth a thousand words, and all.
posted by entropone at 5:48 AM on April 17, 2012


As a diehard Canucks fan, and ex-Vancouverite, I am both saddened (and strangely proud) that the infamous mid-riot "make-out" photo made the cut.
Of course, the story behind it is not exactly what the poster wishes it was...






Also, Go Canucks Go.
posted by Dorinda at 5:50 AM on April 17, 2012


As a Kings fan, I can only say "haw haw!"
posted by ShutterBun at 6:01 AM on April 17, 2012


Um yeah.. the picture of the two kids making out in the street during the lame hockey riots in Canada? NOT EPIC.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2012


I'm too woefully ashamed to even make a witty retort
/thread derailment
posted by Dorinda at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2012


Didn't mean to derail; coincidentally, people were already commenting on it when I added mine. I'm glad Pale Blue Dot is posted right at the top, as well as Carter's photo of the child and the vulture.. some amazing photos here! Good post.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:07 AM on April 17, 2012


Really interesting photos, although I agree that "epic" is not the best description of many of them. Like Surfurrus, I felt older after seeing so many that I remember seeing in the news at the time the events they depict were happening. I was pleased to see the Hubble deep field in there as it is a picture that always fills me with awe. A couple of other things I noticed were that Muhammed Ali was a popular choice (perhaps more than anyone else, but I didn't count), and that unless I missed something the only images that were chosen twice were this(black power salute at the 68 Olympics) and this (Obama et al in the situation room)

When I went to The Sixth Floor Museum a few years ago they had a print of Ruby shooting Oswald signed by the photographer; I really wanted to buy it because it felt like I would own a peice of history, but it was hard to justify spending $1500 on a picture that I probably wouldn't display (although a great photo, it's not the sort of thing most people would hang in their living room). I wonder if it is still there.
posted by TedW at 6:17 AM on April 17, 2012


My "derailment" comment was not directed at you, ReeMonster, but at me and my sports-related (and very off-topic) whingeing. ;)
Your post just snuck in there before I had a chance to hit "submit".


Back on topic: Yes, I agree....there is nothing "epic" about the Stanley Cup riot photo, by any metric.
The situation in which the photo was taken: not epic. The circumstances which prompted the situation: not epic. The photo itself: not epic.
posted by Dorinda at 6:18 AM on April 17, 2012


I went to high school on Kwajalein Island, which I think is the location for the Peacekeeper Missile Test photo. We used to go to the beach to watch the test warheads come in. Good times...
posted by COD at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What are the most epic letters of the alphabet? What are the most epic foods?

X and Z. Snake soup made from pieces of the world-snake that is destined to devour the sun.
posted by griphus at 6:26 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is an epic event, but the photo itself is kinda "meh," if you take my meaning.

To me, those particular photos are epic because there's so much of humanity's and potential distilled down to moment in time. We had to discover and learn so much just to get to a point where we could invent rockets and all the things that enabled humans to travel to the moon and land on it. While it was a uniquely American event, the science behind it was discovered by a wide swath of nationalities.

Hell, the only thing thing keeping Buzz Aldrin, and the other moonwalkers, alive while they were outside was the expert skills of seamstresses.

But the photos epic because because they're truly epic (whatever that means) or because a particular person knows a bit of background and history?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:33 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Pale Blue Dot is not complete without listening to Carl Sagan talking about it...

No, really. It's one of a very small number of things that's able to give me goosebumps every single time I watch it.
posted by schmod at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


(although a great photo, it's not the sort of thing most people would hang in their living room)

I can attest from first hand knowledge that Jerry Casale (of DEVO fame) has a print of Ruby Shooting Oswald hanging on his wall. (as well as the Kent State photo, taken while he was a student there) Granted, he's pretty far from "most people."

The guy who took a similar photo of Ruby *about to* shoot Oswald, had a much different story to tell after the fact. He shot his photo 6/10ths of a second before Jackson (and, ahem, Ruby) shot, and his photo is now a mere footnote in history (if that)

Six-tenths of a second, 2 lives forever changed
posted by ShutterBun at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got what "epic" meant in this situation and thought the photographs were great. No bean plating here. Some of them I'd seen many times, and some never before. It's hard not to think of the epic things that go along with say, the picture of the vulture and the dying child.
posted by josher71 at 7:09 AM on April 17, 2012


Seeing The Pale Blue Dot (including Carl Sagan's wonderful synopsis) and the Sudan 1993 Famine shot one after another is a rather humbling experience. I am not quite sure that the rest of today will be experienced in my usual mindset...
posted by Vindaloo at 7:11 AM on April 17, 2012


The problem with Sagan's Pale Blue Dot meditations is that I'm afraid it can play into the same part of the brain for which one death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic.

It seems to me that quite a lot of humanity's problems are caused by people for whom most of the rest of humanity is distant, tiny, insignificant, almost theoretical. I think most of us are much more in need of a vantage point that is closer to other people than one that is further away.
posted by straight at 7:17 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


ShutterBun, that is a great story. It really shows the role luck plays in our lives. If anyone else followed that link and is interested, here are the two photos of Oswald's shooting side by side. They are both compelling and it's too bad the first photographer didn't get more credit.
posted by TedW at 7:22 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


And here is Jackson's photo with less cropping; I think I like it better that way, as it shows how off-guard it took everyone.
posted by TedW at 7:25 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it should be noted that more than a few photographs at the Quora website are still under copyright by their photographers. I'm surprised no one here objects to the illicit distribution of copyrighted photographs, even if they are significant.
posted by saeculorum at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2012


"Not to diminish the content of the pictures, but there are some that definitely wouldn't have occurred had there not been a camera to record the events. I'm thinking of the execution photo, and the immolation photo, particularly. - Crunchland

Regarding the execution photo, there is an Eddie Adams documentary running on one of the premium cable stations (HBO?), which details his life as a war photographer. It devotes a few minutes to events leading up to, during (including rather gruesome video of the execution), and after the execution happened. From Eddie's retelling of the events (which I can't accurately recount from memory), I firmly believe the execution would have taken place as it did whether or not Eddie and/or the video cameraman were there.

Incidentally, I highly recommend the documentary "An Unlikely Weapon - The Eddie Adams Story" to anyone with a interest in photojournalism and/or war photography.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 8:47 AM on April 17, 2012


I can't link to individual entries but somebody posted these photos (NSFW site): Squirrel somehow gets head stuck in manhole cover. Firemen come to the rescue and try to free it by shaving and greasing up its head and neck. This doesn't work so they slice the metal apart with an industrial saw. Squirrel is freed but dies later that night of PTSD.

Not "epic", but sort of fascinating. A squirrel's life isn't worth destroying a manhole cover, or even bothering the fire department, IMO. It's not a pet for God's sake, give it a quick, easy death and move on.
posted by dgaicun at 8:48 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that photo of the starving child and the vulture really got me. I'd never seen it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:04 AM on April 17, 2012


Wow, that photo of the starving child and the vulture really got me.

It got to the photographer too.
posted by marxchivist at 9:25 AM on April 17, 2012


I first heard of Kevin Carter - the man who took the child and vulture shot - thanks to this song.
posted by mippy at 9:45 AM on April 17, 2012


Lots of powerful pictures but what's with that stupid Sign up for free bar that can't be closed? Why do sites do that crap?
posted by 6550 at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2012


A squirrel's life isn't worth destroying a manhole cover, or even bothering the fire department, IMO. It's not a pet for God's sake, give it a quick, easy death and move on.

But it is an excellent training opprotunity where no one gets in trouble if things go horribly wrong. The next head to get stuck in a cast iron openning might be a child's.
posted by Mitheral at 2:08 PM on April 17, 2012


That poor child crawling for food. My god.
posted by roboton666 at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2012


The photographer, Kevin Carter, chased the bird away and then sat sobbing uncontrollably after taking the photo. ... don't suppose he thought to bring the food to the poor child?
posted by crunchland at 3:52 PM on April 17, 2012


That poor child crawling for food. My god.

Indeed.
posted by dmd at 4:20 PM on April 17, 2012


I think the astronomy pictures, especially the "Lone Blue Pixel", were quite appropriate for an epic picture thread, not because they would fit the definition of epic, but because they put all of the truly epic pictures into a needed perspective.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:35 PM on April 17, 2012



The photographer, Kevin Carter, chased the bird away and then sat sobbing uncontrollably after taking the photo. ... don't suppose he thought to bring the food to the poor child?


I think that's a low blow. He was attacked with that very same rhetoric at the time, which soon led to his suicide. It's not as easy as "bring food to the poor child", the child was close to death apparently and you can't just hand over some food, the body couldn't handle it at that point.
There was probably nothing he could do except sob and be overcome with grief, and document it so the rest of the world could see what was happening there.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:01 PM on April 17, 2012


The photographer, Kevin Carter, chased the bird away and then sat sobbing uncontrollably after taking the photo. ... don't suppose he thought to bring the food to the poor child?

I did a bit of digging. From here:
Soon after his plane had touched down near the village of Ayod, Carter had sought refuge from the sight of thousands of people starving to death. He wandered into the open bush, where he heard a soft, high-pitched whimpering. Following the noise, he found the tiny girl, trying to make her way to the feeding center. As he crouched to take his picture, a vulture landed nearby. He waited quietly, not wanting to disturb the vulture and hoping that it would spread its wings for an even more dramatic image. When after 20 minutes it had not, Carter took his picture, chased the vulture away, and watched the girl resume her struggle. Afterward, Carter reported, he sat under a tree, smoked a cigarette, talked to God, and cried.6 He longed to hug his young daughter Megan. "I alone could never have helped all of them," Carter’s parents report he later told them. "I sat crying under a tree for a long time."7

...

The [Time Magazine] article indicates the child collapsed outside of a "nearby relief center." Obviously, nearby was too far for this child but was near enough for Kevin Carter to see her when he emerged from the relief center. He then positions his camera and takes some photographs of the child and then what? Walks back into the relief center and forgets about her? How? How could anyone forget about her?12

Kevin Carter did not, in fact, forget about that little girl on the outskirts of Ayod. "This is the ghastly image of what is happening to thousands of children," Time quoted him as saying. "Southern Sudan is hell on earth, and the experience was the most horrifying of my career."13 He later told his friend and journalist Chris Marais, "I’m really, really sorry I didn’t pick the child up."14

From what I can tell, it's really not clear what happened to the girl. But, it seems likely that aid workers picked her up and took her to the feeding centre.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:13 PM on April 17, 2012


His thoughts were red thoughts, I'm not sure where you get that impression from the quotes you provided. In fact, the Time mag article quotes the NYT as having told hundreds of callers: "the paper reported that it was not known whether she reached the feeding center."

Honestly, I think the most likely outcome is that the child died, along with more than 70,000 other people.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:20 PM on April 17, 2012


From this:

"Obviously, nearby was too far for this child but was near enough for Kevin Carter to see her when he emerged from the relief center."


She was within sight of the feeding centre. It just seems like an aid worker would have seen her and picked her up. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic.

But yes, even if that happened, she probably died.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:11 PM on April 17, 2012


Late to the party, as usual, but there's a lengthy description of the events surrounding Kevin Carter's vulture photo in Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva's The Bang Bang Club. The crucial section seems to be missing from the amazon preview (around pg 116 for the curious) and I don't have my copy here to check but I think 'Feeding Centre's a bit of a misnomer for what was basically a runway where a cargo plane full of aid, aid workers and two photographers had just landed. The whole scene was a scrum of starving people fighting to get hold of some of the food and several mothers had put their children down on the ground while they joined in literally yards behind where Carter was shooting from. Doesn't change the fact that the child, being that malnourished already, likely didn't survive but she wasn't abandoned or crawling towards a 'feeding station', she was waiting for her mother to come and collect her with whatever food she'd been able to hang on to.
posted by VoltairePerkins at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2012


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