Joao Silva

Joao Silva is a war photographer who has made a name for himself as one of the most loved photojournalists.

Silva was born in August 1966 in Lisbon Portugal. He however began a crucial aspect of his career with the Bang Bang club in South Africa, where he lives in the town of Johannesburg with his wife and children.

Joao Silva: Professional life

Joao Silva has built himself over time into a world class war photographer. Starting from 1989, Silva’s career has survived over 25 dangerous and rough years. The career spread working round different countries to cover wars.

He has worked with and for some media houses including a local newspaper in South Africa such as Alberton Record. This was as far back as 1989 in South Africa. Next in 1991, he worked for The Star newspaper under the mentoring of Oosterbroek.

In 1994, Silva joined the Associated Press. He as well worked for New York Times. At some point in his career, he has had some dealings with Reuters as well among other papers.

In some point in his career also, Joao Silva worked both as a freelance and as a contract staff.

Among the places he visited to cover wars are Angola, the Balkans, Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. Also, he went to Angola, Bosnia, Lebanon, and Israel among other places. Between 2009 and 2010, he spent six months in Iraq covering the transition of Government forces.

Silva was with club member, Kevin Carter, in Somalia where Carter shot the very popular photo of a vulture stalking a little starving child. It was the picture that would win carter a Pulitzer and contribute as alleged, to his suicide.

Bang Bang club

In the most turbulent times of South Africa, between 1990 and 1994, Joao Silva and other photographers; Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, and Ken Oosterbroek came to form the Bang Bang club. Others that worked with the group were Gary Bernard and James Nachtwey.

The Bang Bang club was devoted to covering the conflicts and battles in South Africa. The group of photographers did not only remain in South Africa, as the coming years would see them travelling the world to cover wars and conflicts.

Bang Bang Club experienced its first blows of fate in 1994. This was during a battle between the supporters of African National Congress and the supporters of National Peacekeeping Force in Thokoza Township, when Ken Oosterbroek and Greg Marinovich where caught in the battle.

The event led to the death of Oosterbroek and serious injuries for Marinovich. In that same year, the group lost Kevin Carter who committed suicide.

The group produced two Pulitzer winners; Greg Marinovich and Kevin Carter.

While only two of them; Joao Silva and Greg Marinovich remain as surviving members of the Bang Bang club, only Silva is still active.

Tragedy

In his line of work, Silva has seen much disaster. In 2010, he almost lost his life in Afghanistan, where he went to cover war. The exceptional war photojournalist was in the country working for New York Times.

In Kandahar, following the lead of military men was where it happened. Silva stepped on a landmine and his two legs were gone. His life however sustained after months of treatment and rehabilitation.

While the tragedy took away his two legs, it didn’t take away from him his love for photography. Soon after his rehabilitation, the man picked up his camera.

Awards

  • In 1992 he won the SA press photographer of the year
  • He landed the 2nd prize at World Press Photo Award for Contemporary Issues in 2006
  • In 2007 he got an honorable mention at the World Press Photo Award for Spot News
  • Silva went home with the Ordem da Libberdade award in 2012 from the Portuguese government
  • In 2013, Silva’s photography, from 1990 to 2010, was on displayed in France during the Visa pour l’Imageinternational photojournalism festival to celebrate its 25th year.

 Publications

  • He co authored “The Bang Bang Club: Snap Shots from a Hidden War”. The book was written by himself and Greg Marinovich to tell the story of the final times of Apartheid in south Africa
  • In 2005 he wrote a book; In The Company of God.