September 6, 2023
Chatting the Pictures

Chatting the Pictures: The Climate’s Dark Harvest

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

Paul Ratje took this photo for The New York Times via Redux on July 18, 2023. It shows workers harvesting onions overnight in Salem, New Mexico, which is also an agriculture hub for chilies and cotton. Laboring overnight has become a common practice to escape searing daytime temperatures. The scene is a microcosm of climate change and the heatwaves impacting the lives and labor of millions of Americans. The nocturnal shift also paints a stark picture of adaptation and resilience in the face of environmental breakdown.

In the video, we analyze how the photo challenges our senses. We explain how it upends traditional expectations of order, darkness, light, and the boundary between earth and sky to convey the chaotic realities of climate change.

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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