September 2, 2019
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting the Pictures: Amazon as World’s Lungs; Hong Kong Lasers; Bulletproof Backpacks

Welcome to the latest edition of Chatting the Pictures. In each 10-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 Staff
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 is a photo illustration, posted on social media. The image shows the Amazon burning in the shape of human lungs. We discuss how the image helps and forces us to take the Amazon fires and the climate crisis more personally

For “The Look,” we discuss an image taken by Miguel Candela for SIPA Press. This photo shows Hong Kong democracy demonstrators using a green laser against the riot police officers on July 21, 2019. Michael and Cara talk about the nature of the lasers in asymmetrical warfare. We also discussed the irony of using the technology to both gain attention and avoid identification.

“The Pick” this week is a file photo by George Frey via Getty Images. It shows the testing of a child’s bulletproof backpack in December 2012. Originally published in 2012 after the Sandy Hook massacre, NBC reran the photo in a article reporting how “none of the backpacks currently on the market would have stopped a rifle round from El Paso and Dayton gunmen” — but that sales of the packs have gone up 300% since the two shootings. We discuss the irony, scale and gender implications of the image.

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: Amazon lungs photo illustration, via Twitter.

Photo: Miguel Candela/ SIPA via PA Images

Caption: A protester uses a green laser against the riot police officers. Thousands of protesters take part of a mass rally demanding independent investigation into police tactics in Hong Kong. Jul 21, 2019.

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images file

Caption: Chief Operating Officer for Amendment II, Rich Brand, shoots a child’s backpack with their Rynohide CNT Shield in it on December 21, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their orders for the bulletproof shield have gone up dramatically since the school shooting in Connecticut last week.

Post By

See other posts by Staff 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.


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.


Comments Powered by Disqus