Joao Silva Latest Casualty of the Bang Bang Club


Joao Silva was the latest casualty of The Bang Bang Club.

Beloved and respected war photographer Joao Silva lost both legs below the knee yesterday after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan.


I first heard the news from my brother Jon, whose dear friend David Guttenfelder is another acclaimed war photographer who knows Silva well and prays for his safe recovery.

Known for his bravery and caution, Silva is the latest member of The Bang Bang Club to be injured.  The club was the name given to four photographers-Kevin CarterGreg MarinovichKen Oosterbroek, and Silva-who worked in the townships of South Africa from the period after Nelson Mandela was released in February 1990 to the first free and democratic elections that were held in April 1994.

I have not yet read Marinovich and Silva’s book or seen the film by the same name, but Jon has told me that it is an engaging read.  Beyond the four in the group, legendary photographer James Nachtwey also is a character in the work.

Unfortunately, photographers often place themselves closest to the line of fire, and the Bang Bang Club members have paid the price.  Oosterbroek was killed in 1994, just before the election and an incident in which Marinovich was seriously injured.

Carter killed himself in 1994, haunted by much of what he had seen and photographed.  His haunting image of a young girl struggling to move while a vulture waits nearby earned him the Pulitzer Prize and heavy doses of criticism.

His suicide note read in part:

“I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners…I have gone to join Ken [recently deceased colleague Ken Oosterbroek] if I am that lucky.”

Support continues to stream in for Silva, who is known as much for his humility as for his superb photographs.  We hope that he is able to survive and rebuild his life and reflect on the courage and bravery of those who repeatedly put themselves in the world’s most dangerous situations so that we can learn and history can see what actually happened during our times.


2 responses to “Joao Silva Latest Casualty of the Bang Bang Club

  1. That is very sad news about Joao – thank you for sharing Jeff

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, Jack. On a lighter note, it was fantastic to see Michelle and you on Saturday. Thanks very much again for joining us.

      We are planning a ping pong pot luck for December, so I hope you’re getting ready for that, too!


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