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 is by David Butow, via Instagram. Taken on Capitol Hill on April 9th, it is captioned “However things shake out, Attorney General William Barr… is guaranteed a place in the history books.” We discuss the photo in the context of Barr’s testimony this week on his handling (some would say, spinning) of the Mueller Report in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The photo seems to speak to how much Barr has deviated from government process and legal protocol through a side agenda. The photo raises still another interesting point: it seems that Instagram is the best place now to see Washington’s photo press capture this surreal administration?
For “The Look,” we discuss an image taken by Mario Tama for Getty Images. The photograph offers Hannah Kaye mourning at her mother’s grave on April 29, 2019. Kaye is the daughter of Chabad of Poway shooting victim Lori Gilbert Kaye, murdered in still another mass killing. This masterfully composed image suggests a modern “Pieta”, a symbol of the mourning woman expressing grief and loss. The two women encircled by the shovels of dirt illustrates the sacred ritual in Jewish burial, of each attendee shoveling dirt on the casket. Beyond the immediate event, the image transports us beyond the largely redundant visual coverage of mass shootings.
“The Pick” this week is the cover of TIME. The photograph, by Ryan Pfluger, features potential first couple, Chasten Glezman, and presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, on the front steps of their home in South Bend, Indiana. As radical as this portrait is, there is a normalcy to it, as well. Standing in front of a linear, solid and typically midwestern porch surrounded by daffodils, the picture conveys a gay family in a stereotypically midwestern, conservative fashion. At the same time, the way the men gaze at the camera, along with the declarative nature of the title, are provocative—but challenging and announcing America’s readiness for a gay president and first family.
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