Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 22, 2019

Compassionate Christchurch, Youthful Sincerity of the Climate Strike: Our Social Week

A police officer stands guard with a rose to pay respect at the service for a victim of the Friday March 15 mosque shootings for a burial at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Acts of grief may not be universally relatable, but this week in New Zealand they were certainly felt by all. Pictures from the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre look a lot like the mass shootings Americans have grown accustomed to, but with very different undertones of solidarity, defiance, and resolve embedded in the mourning process. Less than a week after it happened, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has already taken the bold step of banning automatic weapons, a far more pragmatic and responsible response to tragedy than the hand wringing afflicting lawmakers in this country.

We also had our eye on protest this week. It’s been said that photographs that hingae on words for their meaning — from billboards, newspapers headlines, stop signs, etc.– are rarely great pictures. True, English should not be a prerequisite for reading images, and reliance on cultural relativism is an easy approach to storytelling, but an exception may be found in photos of public protest where precise messaging is the point and the camera a means for its amplification. Photos of this week’s youth-led climate strike speak volumes about the priorities of kids coming of age in the Trump era, in part because activists’ hand-scrawled poster boards and protest signage do it for them. Seen as a group, these pictures capture a postmillennial political yearning, where heartfelt nods to nostalgia, pop culture, and humor reveal a generation increasingly at odds with the old world order.

-Rian Dundon

Photo: Vincent Yu/AP Caption: A police officer stands guard with a rose to pay respect at the service for a victim of the Friday March 15 mosque shootings for a burial at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, March 21, 2019. 

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