“The Sudan Girl.”

I decided to analyze a documentary photograph, specifically the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the Sudan Girl by Kevin Carter.

  • Historical Content
    • It was taken in 1994 by Kevin Carter during the Sudan famine and shows a young girl dying from starvation. She is attempting to crawl to a United Nations food camp, while a vulture stands behind her waiting for her to die.
    • The photo shocked the world, not only because of how the photograph depicts the girl but, also, shows that the photographer would take that kind of photo. People were shocked when they learned Kevin Carter stared at the girl for several minutes while decided how to best angle the camera. The vulture landed several feet while he was deciding how to capture the moment, and after taking the picture Carter chased the bird away. But he apparently did not help the child, and no one knows if she survived or not.
    • Proposition
      • The purpose of this photograph was to initially shock it’s audience. People did not have many documented images of the Sudan famine so the picture really encompasses all the humanity and horror the photographer wanted to project.
      • Proof
        • The photograph reaches its audience primarily through ethos. He is capturing this girl at her lowest point, seemingly completely vulnerable. Her age, also, significantly impacts the photograph because starvation and death are issues young children should be blissfully unaware of. Instead, this girl is crawling simply to get food and survive just a little longer.
        • The photo is, also, powerful because of the chosen vector of attention. The image would not be nearly as powerful if Carter had decided to crop the vulture out of the picture. Instead, he captured the juxtaposed positions of the fragile child and the stalking predator. Having the animal several feet back, surveying the child in her struggle, makes the image even more powerful.
        • Evaluation of the Photo
          • Effect – the photograph is extremely successful in reaching its audience. By being such a strong example of ethos and using very specific cropping, the photo addresses the struggle and famine of the entire nation seen through this starving girl.
          • Artistry – the strategy the photographer chose to use specifically was adjusting the vector of attention to include the vulture.
          • Ethics – the long-term implications of the photo were that the public reacted even more urgently to the Sudanese famine. It sparked horror into the American public and actually forced them to act. Unfortunately, Kevin Carter committed suicide just a couple months after taking the photograph due to depression. No one knows if the photo was what really sparked his depression.


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  6. This is a horrifying image. You’ll have a lot to say.

    How do you articulate the exigence? What ideologies and networks of interpretation and commonplaces fuel the pathos?

    Go for it.

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