June 25, 2021
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting the Pictures: Biden-Putin Summit Photo Cracks the Fourth Wall

Welcome to Chatting the Pictures. Every two weeks, we present a short, lively video discussion between Michael Shaw, publisher of Reading the Pictures, and writer, professor, and historian, Cara Finnegan, examining a significant picture in the news. Chatting the Pictures is produced by Liliana Michelena.

By Staff
About the Video

This photo was taken by Denis Balibouse for Reuters Pictures. It shows a security officer holding back the media at the start of a summit meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. Held in Geneva, it was the first meeting between the leaders since Biden became President. In the video, we discuss how the hand “breaks the fourth wall” and reveals the scene as a photo op. We explain how smart it is of the media to circulate it, and we describe how the hand gesture also turns out to be surprisingly informative.

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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

Cara Finnegan is a writer, photo historian, and professor of Communication at the University of Illinois. She has been affiliated with Reading The Pictures for nearly 15 years, most recently as co-host of Chatting The Pictures. Her most recent book is Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital.


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