Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 23, 2014

Why I like the Businessweek Scott Olson Ferguson Cover

I’m trying to decide why I like the Scott Olson Businessweek cover so much more than the Scott Olson TIME cover depicting the turmoil in Ferguson — Olson being the Getty photographer who was arrested last week in that now-notorious town.

Perhaps it’s because of how it breaks from the singular and unrelenting visual theme of the white police force versus the young black male. Far from sidestepping it, though (because the boys remain very much on the radar here, standing on the wall as they are), the photo models how we can look further, or at least under or beneath.

The bottles are interesting, too. It’s poignant (if depressing) to see this young girl also appealing for safe treatment and for justice in displaying the now characteristic raised hands. At the same time, the two bottles ground the photo in the everyday, in the utilitarian, each hand aligned with a drink. If the photo is largely about oppression and victimization, the presence of the bottles — no matter how random or accidental it is that they happened to be there — still place sustenance at hand. Or, is that too optimistic and taking up the gesture, at the expense of holding one’s bottle, drives home the loss of innocence?

Certainly, there is a lot going on or suggested here. How do you see it?

More Ferguson at The Bag.

(photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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