September 4, 2021
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting the Pictures: The Military’s Night Vision “Leaving Afghanistan” Portrait

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, circulated by the U.S. military, shows Army Major General Chris Donahue stepping on board a transport plane at the Kabul airport as the last U.S. soldier to leave Afghanistan. In the video, we discuss the viral photo as a brilliant last act of public relations. We note the irony of seeing in the dark as we focus on all the ways the image serves as a bow tie for a disastrous war that was all loose ends. As contemporary as it is, we also examine the picture as the descendant of elegant Civil War-era portraits.

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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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