1994 Pulitzer Prize, Feature Photography, Kevin Carter, The New York Times
By February 1993, South African photojournalist Kevin Carter has spent a decade photographing the political strife roiling his homeland. He describes lying in the middle of a gunfight. "wondering about which millisecond next I was going to die, about putting something on film they could use as my last picture."
Needing a change, Carter travels to the Sudan to cover the relentless East African famine. At a feeding station at Ayod. He finds people so weakened by hunger that they are dying at the rate of 20 an hour. As he photographs their hollow eyes and bloated bellies, Carter hears a soft whimpering in the bush. Investigating, he finds a tiny girl trying to make her way to the feeding center. Carter crouches, readying his camera. Suddenly, a vulture lands nearby. Carter waits. The vulture waits. Carter takes his photographs, then chases the bird away. Afterward, he sits under a tree and cries.
The photograph runs in newspapers worldwide. Carter receives outraged letters and angry midnight phone calls. Everyone wants to know: Why didn't he pick up the child?
Journalists in the Sudan had been told not to touch famine victims, because of the risk of transmitting disease. This is no comfort to Carter, who tells a friend. "I'm really, really sorry I didn’t pick the child up." The controversy and other personal problems overwhelm him. On July 26, 1994, police find Kevin Carter dead, an apparent suicide. He is 33 years old.