Combat photographers keep seeking the truth

The Bang-Bang Club

They witnessed and recorded death on nearly a daily basis in South Africa — and when the civil strife ended, the casualties included themselves, their colleagues and the truth.

Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, two of the handful of photographers covering the battles in apartheid’s waning days, discuss pieces of the bigger picture they and the media at large missed in a new book, The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War.

Marinovich won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of a man beaten, burned and mutilated by a mob in the township violence that took place a decade ago, but larger issues haunted him. The images fueled anti-black propaganda while the brutal deaths brought him acclaim, writes Lynne Duke in a Washington Post story.

When an admirer at a recent Freedom Forum event in New York asks how to break into the business, Marinovich replies:

“It’s not easy, and it’s quite dangerous, and it’s a very exploitive business. … Make sure it’s what you really want to do. It’s not glamorous. It’s ugly and emotionally very distressing. … We were on the radio today in Wisconsin and some woman called in and said she had Kevin Carter‘s picture” — of a vulture stalking a dying Sudanese child — “cut from the newspaper and framed in her bedroom, and that’s like seven years since that picture was published, and it still moves her. So it’s like, wow, sometimes you can have an effect. And sometimes it’s a complete waste of time. And sometimes you’re doing it for your own ego.”