May 29, 2023
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting The Pictures: Death is Part of Life

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

Ilvy Njiokiktjien of the VII Photo Agency took this picture on October 2, 2020. The image is from a story about intergenerational co-housing, a recent trend in Dutch living. In the foreground, we see John, who passed away the day before. In the background, we see John’s daughter, Lisa, preparing flowers for his funeral; his granddaughter, Norah, watching a show on a laptop; and John’s wife, Els, choose an outfit for the ceremony. John’s coffin is placed in his bedroom in a farmhouse converted for expanded living in Zoelmond, in the Netherlands. The photo is from a larger series titled “I Am Because We Are,” which was recently recognized for its achievement by the Picture of the Year award and World Press Photo, 2023.

In the video, we discuss the calmness and domesticity of this scene in contrast to the distancing of death in modern, affluent western cultures. We note how the ages of the family members also evoke the cycle of life, and we comment on gender roles.

You can find all the Chatting the Pictures replays here.

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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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