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.
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.