I remember the heated discussions that followed the first time I and a small group viewed this photo; and every time since, those same arguments float into my head. A small child, alone, starving. A vulture, hungry also, waiting for death to creep in and take the child’s last breath.
The composition of this photo, with the vulture so close to the small child, left alone in the dry, African landscape, with no family member in sight, causes the viewer to question the photographer’s motives regarding the child’s life. The scenario is made worst by the condition of the child, whose feeble body is bent over, in what looks like exhaustion and hunger.
Kevin Carter has cleverly used leading lines and the rule of thirds within the photo, to add interest and appeal to the eye of the viewer, both in the way that the vulture is positioned away from the child and each critical element lies on a third of the image.
I feel that the main purpose of the photo, is for the viewer to experience, through the expected emotional bond to the child, just how harrowing the circumstances of poverty are in Africa, hopefully leading to much needed change.
L1 Photography, University of the West of England