Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
January 11, 2020

Chatting the Pictures: Australia on Fire; Suleimani Assassination; Church Full of Guns

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. 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.

For “The Look,” we discuss a photo taken by Matthew Abbott for the New York Times. It features a kangaroo rushing past a burning house in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia, on Tuesday December 31, 2019. We talk about how to look at photos of the climate crisis. We also consider how widening climate crisis makes symbols like the kangaroo important, and how the threat to animals meets climate denial.

“The News” photo this week was taken by Ebrahim Noroozi from the Associated Press depicting people in Tehran protesting the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. We analyze how much the targeted assassination of Suleimani has seemingly unified the Iranian public. We also look at the image in the context of Iranian threats of retaliation, the role of martyrdom, and Islamic beliefs about the afterlife.

“The Pick” this week is a photo illustration by The New York Times. This still frame from a surveillance video shows at least seven parishioners appear to be holding handguns seconds after the shooting in the West Freeway Church of Christ near Ft. Worth. We look at how this image reads to people on opposite sides of the gun debate. And we examine the value of the image as a moment in time.

You can find all the Chatting the Pictures replays here.


Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press
Caption: Tehran on Saturday protesting the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. January 4, 2020
Photo illustration: The New York Times
Caption: In this video still, at least seven parishioners appear to be holding handguns seconds after the shooting in a Texas church.

  • 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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