Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 20, 2015

Like Oil and Water

Same question, different day. When it comes to the key issues of our time — in this case, the fragility of the earth and environmental activism — how much does photography inform and how much does it entertain?

In the case above, the Grist headline, “You have to see these pictures of Seattle’s kayaking climate protesters,” concerning the Greenpeace action against Shell’s Arctic drilling, would tend toward the latter.

Granted, a photo like this one from yesterday’s Getty’s package on the oil spill in Santa Barbara, entrancing as it is, is just one of dozens. Still, it almost makes me forget what I’m looking at.

(photo 1: N. Scott Trimble/Greenpeace USA. photo 2: David McNew/Getty Images. caption: Oil flows toward the ocean from an inland oil spill near Refugio State Beach on May 20, 2015 north of Goleta, California. About 21,000 gallons spilled from an abandoned pipeline on the land near Refugio State Beach, spreading over about four miles of beach within hours. The largest oil spill ever in U.S. waters at the time occurred in the same section of the coast where numerous offshore oil platforms can be seen, giving birth to the modern American environmental movement.)

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