December 16, 2013

The BagNews Top 10 News Photos of 2013

More Than We Could Handle

We saw the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev selfie — the one that appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone — as the clear photo of the year. Why? For the way it exposed how much mirroring America could take. Even voices one could otherwise count on to appreciate and deconstruct its cultural and political significance were offended. (I urge you to read Janet Reitman’s postscript to the cover of her own story.) If most people ended up blaming Rolling Stone for it, however, it was the photo itself that so blurred the line between “us” and “them.”

photo: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev/Instagram

Lord Ted

Taken immediately following the 24 hour Senate monologue that preceded the government shut down, this grandstand launched Ted Cruz’s political star at the county’s expense. As one commenter described the photo, it looked “like Medieval Christian-” or “early/mid 20th Century Fascist Social realist iconography.” Either way, the headdress was a capping statement to this new anti-hero’s soaring venality.

photo: Jason Reed/Reuters

Man on the Subway

What surprised us about this striking photo that surfaced after Francis was newly-named was how the picture hardly circulated. In our discussion, we concluded — in this day and age — that it must truly demonstrate the man’s modesty.

photo: unknown. via @FJMallon/Twitter

Obama Firing a Gun

What was politically fortuitous for the President was the ability of the White House to produce this picture after claiming, during the post Newtown gun control debate, that he was no stranger to firearms. (Published in February, it was originally taken in August 2012.) Today however, the fact the photo caters so much to conservatives is a bitter pill to swallow after the Administration’s gun control efforts largely came up empty.

photo: Pete Souza/White House

Shooting Boehner

As we wrote in October:

With the government shutdown slamming headlong into the debt ceiling deadline, the magnitude of damage, frustration and anger toward the House Republicans and the Speaker for sabotaging the government becomes almost palpable here. From time to time, I’ll read a quotation about how the camera can be likened to a weapon. What’s going on, symbolically of course, are the press members — as the proxies of the people — not just dropping their typical submissiveness but actually challenging Boehner’s destructiveness and irresponsibility.

photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

I Felt it Would be Wrong Not to Stop and Take Note of this Photo from Aleppo

Was it the moment, the scale, the path, the witnessing? With photos of rebels holed up in houses populating weekly Western photo galleries, there have been no shortage of images of the Syrian Civil War. However, this photo of opposition fighters lining an aqueduct after rainwater receded seemed particularly eloquent — and ghastly.

photo: Thomas Rassloff/EPA

Not Fake, Just Unbelievable

Paul Hansen’s shot, like the Tsarnaev and Obama shooting photo, wasn’t taken in 2013 but we’re counting it for the year it achieved notoriety. Apparently, the only thing “off” about the 2013 World Press winner was how easily and often people believed something might have been wrong with it. Photojournalism still some serious thinking to do when it comes to processing, given that the baseline, established in this case, was is not if it looked powerful, but if it looked real.

photo: Paul Hansen/Dagens Nyheter/EPA

Discomfiting Anniversary

You need the read the caption to access the photo:

Headstones are reflected in a photograph that is leaning against the headstone for Iraq war casualty U.S. Army Master Sgt. Tulsa Tulaga Tuliau on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq at Arlington National Cemetery March 19, 2013. Tuliau was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations near Rustimayah, Iraq on September 26, 2005.

If atypical for a wire image, what’s completely fitting for this photo-in-a-photo is that we have no idea who these guys are — or if Tuliau is even in the picture. What Getty’s Chip Somodevilla captures in the most liminal way (no retouching, no funny filters) is that Iraq was a ghost war … and now, ten years down the road, so many of its vets are too.

photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It’s Not Easy Being Obama

Six months after the surprisingly successful mid-term elections but before things turned south over the government shutdown, the Snowden bleed and the disastrous health care web launch, the photo seems almost prescient now.

photo: Charles Dharapak/AP caption

“I’m More Vulnerable in Kind of this Weird Way”

This image for a NYT campaign story not only captured Weiner’s masochism-disguised-as-contrition, it demonstrated that he had no monopoly on flashing the digits. (Our write up here.)

photo: Todd Heisler for The New York Times


(update: added sentence re Obama shooting photo date. h/t: Phil Bicker)

(Additional caption information: #2 Ted Cruz: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to the press after leavingthe U.S. Senate Chamber after a marathon attack on “Obamacare,” at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 25, 2013. Standing in a nearly empty Senate Chamber, Cruz spent more than 21 hours making his case to deny funding to implement President Barack Obama’s landmark overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, arguing it is hurting the economy. #4 Obama gun: President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. #5 Shooting Boehner: caption: Photographers take pictures of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (R) as he appears before reporters after a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 15, 2013. House Republicans hope to pass their own legislation to reopen the federal government, rejecting the deal that emerged from Senate negotiations. #6: Aleppo bodies: caption: People gather at the banks of a waterway in the south of Aleppo from which rebels have recovered more than 100 bodies. #7: Paul Hansen: caption: Mourners carry the bodies of a brother and sister, two year old Suhaib Hijazi and three year old Muhammad, who were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City on 20 November 2012. #9 Umbrella: President Barack Obama looks to see if it is still raining as a Marine holds an umbrella for him during his joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, not pictured, Thursday, May 16, 2013, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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