Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 21, 2019

Chatting the Pictures: New Zealand PM Gives Comfort; Young Climate Activist; Nebraska Bomb Cyclone

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. 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 taken by Hagen Hopkins for Getty Images. Two days after the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history, we see the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, consoling a mosque attendee at Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington, New Zealand. We discuss her healing presence, and how the warmth she brings to those in grief seems to transcends the presence of the camera. We also discuss how her identity as a young mother contributes to—but doesn’t limit—her handling of the tragedy.

For “The Look,” we discuss an image by Jacquelyn Martin for the Associated Press. It is one of 10 portraits made of student activists at last week’s climate change rally in Washington DC. Here is the entire collection. Each person poses with a chalkboard of her or his age in 2030, the date established by the UN as the tipping point for reversing the threat of climate disaster. We look at the photo of 8-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, and examine how she represents a new generation of young activists. We explore how her portrait reflects a complex range of feelings as well as causes, and how the blackboard “schools us” on the crisis.

“The Pick” this week features an aerial photo of the historic flooding in Nebraska. It was distributed by Reuters and taken by Herschel Talley. The image shows an almost sunken tank at Camp Ashland, an Army National Guard facility, in Ashland, Nebraska that has been stranded by a “bomb cyclone” winter storm. We discuss the irony of a strong military when the country seems defenseless against successive and increasingly destructive climate disasters. We also note how the eerie quiet approximates the silent threat that is rapidly undermining the planet.

You can find all the Chatting the Pictures replays here.

Slideshow

Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images.

Caption: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs a mosque-goer at the Kilbirnie Mosque on March 17, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. 50 people are confirmed dead and 36 are injured still in hospital following shooting attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March. The attack is the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history.

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Caption: Havana Chapman-Edwards, 8, of Washington, poses for a portrait with a chalkboard of her age in 2030, the point where the globe would be stuck on a path toward what scientists call planet-changing dangerous warming, Friday, March 15, 2019, during a climate change rally of students in Washington. “Our earth is warming up and we have to stop this,” she says, “if we have more droughts and more climate crisis it will be very bad for our future. We won’t have a future when we grow up.” From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students are skipping classes to protest what they see as the failures of their governments to take tough action against global warming. The ‘school strikes’ on Friday were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and are taking place in over 100 countries.

Photo: Courtesy Herschel Talley/Nebraska National Guard/via REUTERS

Caption: Flooded Camp Ashland, an Army National Guard facility, is seen in Ashland, Nebraska, March 17.

  • Panelists
  • Michael Shaw An analyst of news photos and visual journalism, and a frequent lecturer and writer on visual politics, photojournalism and media literacy, Michael is the founder and publisher of Reading the Pictures.
  • Cara Finnegan Communication Professor, University of Illinois. Author of Making Photography Matter: A Viewer's History from the Civil War to the Great Depression and Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs. Moderator, Reading the Pictures Salon.

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