March 14, 2019
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting the Pictures: College Entrance Scandal; Venezuela Black Out; Beto Leibovitz 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of Chatting the Pictures. In each 20-minute webcast, co-hosts Michael Shaw, publisher of Reading the Pictures, and writer and historian, Cara Finnegan, discuss three prominent photos in the news.

By Michael Shaw
About the Video

The program is broken into three segments: “The News,” “The Look,” and “The Pick.” “The News” examine a hard news image for its content value. “The Look” focuses on a news photo for its artistry and style. And “The Pick” asks what made a high profile photo so unique to editors or the public.

“The News” photo this week was distributed by Mega. Based on the college entrance scandal that broke this week, we see actress Felicity Huffman leaving court after her arraignment. We look at the irony of the crossover news/paparazzi photo, wonder where Bill Macy (Huffman’s husband is), discuss that classic grimace on the officer’s face, and muse about how well-heeled parents get their kids into college through the back or side door.

For “The Look,” we discuss an image by Carlos Eduardo Ramirez for Reuters Pictures. It shows a Venezuelan girl looking at her phone while San Cristobal, in the background, is largely in a blackout. The country is suffering from a lack of power during its political crisis. We discuss the power of the photo on multiple levels, as information, as a generational portrait, as a snapshot in the country’s slow motion breakdown.

“The Pick” this week features the cover photo of Vanity Fair taken by Annie Leibovitz. The image essentially launches Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign. We went to town on the photo, talking color, branding, gender (the boys are entering the race now), symbolism (the truck, the American West, the dog, America’s romance with the open road, Beto as middle ground)—and especially, Leibovitz’s photo directing moves that Beto wasn’t even thinking about.

You can find all the Chatting the Pictures replays here.

The Full Edit

Take a closer look at some of the images from our larger photo edit.

Photo: PG/Rachpoot/MEGA

Caption: Felicity Huffman is seen leaving court.

Photo: Carlos Eduardo Ramirez/Reuters

Caption: A girl uses her cell phone at the window of her house during a blackout in San Cristobal, Venezuela March 14, 2018. But because of the economic crisis, Venezuela has reduced electricity consumption to about 14,000 megawatts at peak hours, according to engineer and former electricity executive Miguel Lara. Two years ago, state-run Corpoelec put the figure at 16,000 megawatts.

Photo: Beto O’Rourke by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair.

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus