June 24, 2019
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting the Pictures: Hong Kong Democracy Protests

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. This week, our webcast looks at the massive democracy protests in Hong Kong against a proposed Chinese extradition law.

“The News” photo this week is by Vincent Yu for Associated Press. In this June 16th photo, a protester clenches his fist as hundreds of thousands of people march. The photo conveys the massive scale of the protests and a traditional gesture. While it suggests a leader and followers too, the connection between the fist and crowd is random and, in fact, anti-authoritarian.

For “The Look,” we discuss an image taken by for Agence France Presse by Isaac Lawrence. In the photo, police search a man outside the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong on June 11. The photo is artful and complex, with a focus on the person in the center. Juxtaposed with the figure in the mural, the picture also mocks the ideal of a Chinese market economy.

“The Pick” this week is by Yuen Chan. It shows the Hong Kong press at a June 13th press conference in protective clothing and helmets to protest police brutality. While the journalists do their job, they are also sending a message that they, as well as the public, are under threat. The situation and gaze of the police officials also make them look more like defendants, complicit as they are. Finally, the protester’s yellow vests echo the same symbol of France’s populist uprising.

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: Vincent Yu/AP

Caption: In this Sunday, June 16, 2019, file photo, a protester clenches his fist as tens of thousands of protesters march on the streets to stage a protest against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong.

Photo :Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty.

Caption: Police search a man outside the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong late on June 11, 2019, two days after the city witnessed its largest street protest in at least 15 years as crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to China. – Scores of Hong Kong businesses have vowed to shut on June 12 and protesters have planned another mass rally outside the city’s parliament as anger builds over the government’s push to allow extraditions to China. The financial hub was rocked by a huge protest march over the weekend — the largest since the city’s 1997 return to China — as vast crowds called on authorities to scrap the Beijing-backed plan.

Photo: Yuen Chan.

Caption: Hong Kong press show up to police press conference in protective clothing and helmets to protest police brutality to journalists on June 13, 2019.

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Michael Shaw
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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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