Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 23, 2017

Disasters, Natural and U.N.-Natural: Our Weekly Roundup

People motion to others to be quiet as rescue workers are searching for survivors under the rubble of a collapsed building in Mexico City. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

It feels like nothing makes sense anymore. That’s par for the course with Trump in charge, but nature has been going the same way. Trump’s hellfire and brimstone and his baiting of N. Korea didn’t play well at the annual meeting of the United Nation’s General Assembly; neither did his need for attention. Certainly, the photographers made him pay. The serious focus was directed toward Mexico after the country suffering a second consecutive, devastating earthquake. Any other time, the arm gestures in the photo above would stand for triumph or empowerment. Instead, they plead for quiet, as rescuers use sound equipment to search for children buried under a collapsed school in Mexico City. We also looked at: Hurricanes and the social toll (If you missed it, here’s my review of Harvey photography at CJR, and Marta Zarzycka’s post on eco disaster photos.); protests in St. Louis in response to another racial shooting and officer acquittal; the Emmy’s; the limits of photography and the opioid crisis; and progressive counter-protests. Hurricane season has no end in Washington, but it can’t come soon enough weather-wise.

(I should probably explain the Pete Souza photo, by the way, mocking Trump with the people on the motorcycle. It was in response to a comment Trump made to Macron at the U.N. fantasizing about having a U.S. military parade like the one France holds on Bastille Day.)

Did you see this in The Times this morning? I had such an intense reaction, I felt myself blocking my vocal chords. But it didn’t stop there. The impact of the command just kept growing in my head. Insensitive perhaps, my mind jumped to what, besides neighbors and relatives trapped underground, could be heard. ⠀ What came to me — and I imagine you hear them too — are the same questions occupying my silent moments these days: What’s wrong with our planet? Why all the massive disasters? Why so many back-to-back? What’s random and what’s self-inflicted? And can they bring us together instead of crushing us?⠀Strength to Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, Texas and everyone suffering from nature beyond this hemisphere. (-Michael Shaw) Photo: Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. via @nytimes Wednesday Briefing https://buff.ly/2xvTNEw. Caption: Rescuers requesting silence to listen for trapped earthquake survivors in Mexico City on Tuesday. More than 200 people were killed. @afpphoto @agencefrancepresse #Mexico #MexicoCity #earthquake #disaster #rescue #silence #silencio

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I’ve been slowly collecting images for a Columbia Journalism Review post. It’s tentatively called “Protest Ballet.” No flippancy intended, the point is to think about how protest images are becoming ever more artful and kinetic. This shot, arising out of that concerning verdict in St. Louis, is a powerful example. It’s even more strange, among the other objects in the window, that this woman’s head seems lost in a book. I have one guideline for body language, dramatic action and the prop-like element: does it fortify the news story or does it siphon off energy and attention from it? In this case, with the woman a moving target and her head a weirdly obscured blur, I think it point-blank strengthens it. (Michael Shaw)⠀ ⠀ Reposting @nbcnews:⠀ …⠀ “Protests turned violent for a second night near #StLouis following the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man, as a small group of demonstrators refused to disperse, breaking windows at dozens of businesses and throwing objects at police, who moved in with hundreds of officers in riot gear to make arrests.⠀ .⠀ The confrontation took place late Saturday night after a peaceful march earlier in the evening to protest a judge’s ruling Friday clearing ex-officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. 📷⠀ @lbphotography1 / @reuters⠀ Scott Olson / @gettyimages⠀ Joshua Lott / @reuters⠀ Scott Olson / @gettyimages” #protest #race #verdict #police #pepperspray #BlackLivesMatter

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I wonder if Banksy’s latest has a larger message to it, tied as it is to a major new Basquiat exhibition in London. With totalitarian tendencies escalating around the globe, the interrogation is one more reflection on racism and the state. But it’s hard not to think there’s another point to the treatment of Basquiat’s “other-ized” figure. Is Banksy also warning how ripe the art world, and art itself, is for the shakedown? (-Michael Shaw)⠀ ⠀ Reposting @guardian:⠀ …⠀ “@Banksy has revealed two new murals at @Barbicancentre this weekend. Timed with the centre’s upcoming Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition, Banksy said: “Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican – a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls.”⠀ Photos: David Mirzoeff” #Basquiat #art #politicalart #race #Barbican #Banksy #graffiti #politics #police #totalitarian #dwb #London @barbicancentre @banksy @banksy_news

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Photo: Ginnette Riquelme/Reuters. Caption: People motion to others to be quiet as rescue workers are searching for survivors under the rubble of a collapsed building in Mexico City.

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