June 21, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi: Rock Star



In my talk at Photoville on Saturday, I’ll be giving some reasons why news photos continue to become more prominent. One reason has to do with how much political figures have evolved into cultural celebrities, and news photos showcase that status. You can see a good example of this in TIME’s slideshow this week trumpeting Aung San Suu Kyi’s first trip abroad. Certainly, there is a great deal to admire about her odyssey and no reason to take anything away from her stature as an emergent world figure.

At the same time, though, isn’t it interesting how these photos could have just as well been published by People.com? I actually surprised myself when I first glimpsed that photo with San Suu Kyi and the Dali Lama. With a little gasp, even, like some kind of social editor, my first thought was about just how much star power was in that room.


I really like this third photo. It actually demonstrates the point completely on it’s own, as we, the public, sneak a peek at Burma’s star through the curtain of a Rangoon airport VIP lounge.

I might not see this much longer, but because Aung San Suu Kyi is mostly a new face on the world stage, having elevated there largely as a person of conscience, these photos are clearly over the top. Too much celebrity wattage.

… And here’s the info on my Photoville talk. If you’re in the area, I really hope you’ll come listen, and say hello!

With its increasing prominence in our visual culture, growing editorial and social media impact, shifting looks and aesthetics, and ever new forms of presentation, this is an exciting time to be following news photos.

Michael Shaw,  publisher of BagNewsNotes  on “The State of the News Photo.” Photoville.  Saturday, June 23.  4:45 pm. Schedule.

(photo 1: JEREMY RUSSELL / OHHDL / AP caption: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, left, speaks to Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during their private meeting in London, June 19, 2012.photo 2: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON / REUTERScaption: Aung San Suu Kyi, left, poses for a picture with singer Bono of the band U2 at the opening session of the Oslo Forum in Norway, June 18, 2012.photo 3: DAMIR SAGOLJ / REUTERS

caption: Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has a cup of tea at the VIP lounge of Rangoon’s airport, May 29, 2012, as she waits for her flight to Bangkok.)

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Michael Shaw
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