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 made by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via National Science Foundation. This is the first image of a black hole, which resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun. This composite image invites us to a greater understanding of the universe through digital manipulation. Looking “just the way we imagined it would,” the image addresses our urge to know the unknowable. When you think about it though, that’s a tall order when it’s actually the ultimate depiction of nothing.
For “The Look,” we discuss an image taken by Pablo Martínez Monsiváis for the Associated Press. This macro photograph of Donald Trump’s eye reflecting a media scrum pushes the creative boundaries of news photography. According to many on the internet, this picture of Trump’s eye served as an ironic parallel to the black hole. As we saw it, the image brilliantly illustrates how Trump internalizes his need for attention, and his attempt to control of the press and the larger audience.
“The Pick” this week features a viral image of a protest in Sudan, by Lana Haroun. We discuss how this photo of 22-year-old Alaa Salah is drenched in symbolism, from the cultural elements of her dress (especially those circular earrings!) to her body posture. Bringing to mind the Statue of Liberty or the sculpture of Marianne in the Place de la République in Paris, we discuss how the picture depicts woman’s power as well as generational change. We also discuss how important the photo is for its online impact — a sign that visual protest, by way of social media, has come a long way since the Arab Spring.
You can find all the Chatting the Pictures replays here .