What do you think of this photograph of suffering? Do you feel any emotions for the object that is the girl and the photographer? This is one of the photographs that made me think about its effects. In this blog, I am going to focus on how people engage photographs of suffering from the morals that photographers have and the reactions that spectators raise, which is my research question. To make this project the right way, I would like to use a case study which is about Kevin Carter who photographed that photo that is shown on the top.
Why This Is Important?
The aim of exploring this topic is to recognise the border that is blurred between the photographers’ intents and the audiences’ reaction. Although there are many scholars who have already mentioned it, there are many cases that are debated around the world, especially on the Internet. In addition, there are not only debates and discussions, but also there are many serious problems such as the case of Kevin Carter. Hajrizi (2019) reported that despite he won the Pulitzer Prize for the photography Starving Child and Vulture, he committed suicide because he had depression that caused by the dilemma that he just photographed the facts such as the starving girl to report them to the world but he had done nothing to help them. When he took his own life, he left his message “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain” (100 photos time 2021). It is possible to assume that there are many people who are in similar troubles. I acknowledge that it is easy to give their own opinions, in particular, the subject is ethical things but it is necessary to consider the purposes of the photographer to not misunderstand their works. At the same time, it is required how to heal photographers of their traumatic issues or regrets to reduce the number of suffering photographers like Kevin Carter. Otherwise, any creation that includes documentaries, movies, TV programs, and other things will disappear because it can be judged they just make nothing to learn from them.
Who Does It Matter To?
This project is going to focus on the three different types of audiences that are creators, the spectators, and the people who actually experience. Dealing with these kinds of sensitive topics is essential and necessary for those who study media and communications as well as professionals because they will have many opportunities to produce, release, create any kinds of topics for the audience with any creations. Even though they are not students studying the subject, it is meaningful and considerable for everyone to understand this theme to receive messages correctly. Also, the number of giving opinions can be from non-professional people so it is important to point out what is acceptable or can be breach ethics. On the other hand, for the people who actually are troubled and are used by creators as the subjects, they need to understand what creators would like to reveal and tell the audience. It must maintain their rights and people have to respect through experiencing their lives.
What Has Already Been Reported In The Literature?
About the photographs of suffering, Szorenyi (2009) summarised in her publication that those photographs must represent to learn the human cost of war, famine, and other issues in the world. She also wrote, “it can provide a means by which those who are privileged might be prompted to reflect on vulnerability, their own and others” (Szorenyi 2009). For the perception of the photographs of suffering, she mentioned that to read the frame in which it is presented is an essential process not only the photograph. Szorenyi (2009) stated it is necessary to consider the discursive contents not only the contents of the photograph. To summarise her publication, it is necessary to present photographs of suffering and reading their frames at the same time. On the other hand, Ow Yeong (2014) analysed the case of Kevin Carter’s case as the feelings that he felt were paid for the occupation that needs the ability of dispassionate composure in a miserable situation. Furthermore, he pointed out one dangerous point that is “the camera itself might inhibit empathy in a photographer by encouraging the prioritization of images above individuals” (Ow Yeong 2014). As for the impact of Kevin Carter’s death, Hajrizi (2019) stated that his photograph with a starving girl and his death served many people who have similar problems by making international humanitarian organizations aware of the problems globally. He concluded this impact as “Sometimes one life is sacrificed to save thousands of lives” (Hajrizi 2019).
How To Address This Research Question
To undertake the research question that is “how people engage photographs of suffering at the aspects of the morals that photographers have and the reactions that spectators raise”, it is possible to approach two different ways. The first way is reading academic publications to see what scholars mentioned and thought, which enables people to gain reliable facts as well as evidence. This approach is the essential method to prevent gaining wrong theories or facts. Also, this project can be beneficial so referring to academic sources and making any states reliable is the first step to report to the audience. At the same time, it is important to observe what the spectators say and react to photographs of suffering. So I am going to use SNS especially Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube as the method. Those platforms are for posting pictures/videos or giving opinions about that so it is remarkable to use their voices to find the answer to the research question.
Hajrizi, E 2019, ‘International Conference Journalism, Media and Communication’, Conference Book of Proceedings International Conference, no.8, viewed 18 March 2021, <http://conferences.ubt-uni.net/2019/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Book-of-Proceedings_MC_2019.pdf#page=42>
Szorenyi, A 2009, ‘Distanced suffering: photographed suffering and the construction of white in/vulnerability’, Social Semiotics, vol. 19, viewed 20 March 2021, <https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/full/10.1080/10350330902815816>
Ow Yeong, WK 2014, ‘Our failure of empathy’: Kevin Carter, Susan Sontag, and the problems of photography’,Think Pieces: A Journal of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, viewed 18 March 2021, <https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1458035/1/Wai_Kit_Ow_Yeong_Our_Failure_of_Empathy.pdf>
time 100 photos 2021, Kevin Carter Starving Child and Vulture, time 100 photos, viewed 20 March 2021, <http://100photos.time.com/photos/kevin-carter-starving-child-vulture>