Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 5, 2015

Photographer Natalie Keyssar on Getting Baltimore Wrong

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People keep asking me, if big media is missing the Freddy Gray story, what should I be looking at? How about Natalie Keyssar’s photo post at Medium, “What We’re Getting Wrong About Baltimore.

First, the narrative — especially the pull-out quotes — are wonderful. More than that, though, the photos capture a Baltimore that, unlike the stereotypical stories of anger and violence, poverty or neglect, is not one thing. As Natalie writes in a phrase that evidences that nuance:

Yes, at night there has been a little bit of violence.

More so, though, as she illustrates, there has been a more thoughtful concert of expression, with the majority of the frustration and anger, as we’ve surfaced here in our last few posts, focused on how the community is being represented.

At night, as we converge at North and Penn, waiting to see if violence will break out, community leaders beg for the media to go home.

The photos in the post are wonderful, particularly for their physicality, their “active-ism.” More than the others, the shot above seemed to capture the emotional complexity. We’ve got affirmation, we’ve got hands up, we’ve got Mickey Mouse, we’ve got dreds asunder, we’ve got the eyes bearing down (can’t tell if it’s a news or a police helicopter); and in contrast to those men in a performative space, we’ve got the ambiguity of an audience that’s not so sure.

As much as the country relies on journalists to define the tone, this post draws on cadences from the citizenry.

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