"I hope I die with the best fucking news pic of all time on my neg. - it wouldn't be worth it otherwise..."The passage was taken from Ken Oosterbroek's diary dated May 20th, 1988. He was a South African photojournalist who was killed on a clash during the last days of the apartheid era. He was a member of the so-called Bang-Bang Club.
I have just finished reading the book entitled after the group's name 'The Bang Bang Club'. I heard and interested about the book a couple years ago but just couldn't find one then. Until recently a senior writer and journalist, Nina Masjhur, kindly lent me this book, when during a conversation I mentioned about it and she in coincidence has the book.
The book tells us about the political history of South Africa during the heat when apartheid was falling apart and how the local photographers and journalists covered and reported the story. It concentrates on a group of photojournalists who hung out together, trusted each other and risked their lives to compete getting the best picture of the bloody conflict, The Bang-Bang.
There are four of them who bonded most closely in the group, Ken Oosterbroek, Kevin Carter, Joao Silva and Greg Marinovich. With Kevin as the most famous of all because of his picture of a collapsed starving child stalked by a vulture, the famed picture which won him a Pulitzer prize. Moreover it was a story of young and ambitious photojournalists who saw the war affecting their career, their country and their personal lives. Simply the bullets, blood and war tore them apart as a journalist and as an individual.
Kevin Carter's famous image that won him Pulitzer Prize in 1994
A quote taken from the book said:
"I have got to a point where the pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain... and I am haunted by the loss of my friend Ken"Kevin said this after the death of his colleague and best friend Ken Oosterbroek. A death that deeply affected Kevin and the other two. So deep and also mixed with the other problems he had, Kevin took his own life soon after he received his Pulitzer prize.
A wounded Greg Marinovich is assisted by photojournalist
James Nachtwey, while Joao Silva takes pictures of Gary Bernard
and an officer from the National Peacekeeping Force as they
carry the fatally wounded Ken Oosterbroek in the background,
18 April 1994, Thokoza township. Photo by Juda Ngwenya/Reuters.
Written by the two surviving members of group, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, it gives us an insight feeling in becoming a photojournalist furthermore a war-photographer. Telling us it is just not a simple and exciting job to do, this is a serious job and very important.
That they are not just taking pictures, instead they are documenting history for those who can't be there.
It brought me more respect to the profession.