Reading the Pictures is dedicated to visual, political, and media analysis of editorial images, whether keyed to current headlines or specific cultural themes. Notes offers analysis by a list of regular and guest contributors.
The Reading the Pictures Salon is a discussion forum dedicated to understanding how the visual media frames the key social and political themes and events of our day. Typically held online, the Salon brings together the eyes and voices of the world’s leading photojournalists, photo editors and visual scholars to analyze select edits of still news and political images in a two-hour discussion format.
Recent topics include: The visual framing of the US/Mexico border wall, family separation and the caravan; how science is pictured in the media; the 2016 presidential campaign through the eyes of young photojournalists; the visual framing of the migrant crisis; How surveillance is pictured in the media; and the debate over White House photo access.
Previous topics include the framing of the Syrian civil war; the visual rhetoric of abortion and the legislative “War on Women”; the imagery of “The Great Recession”; representation of the Egypt revolution and the Arab Spring; an analysis of the early photo coverage of the Haiti earthquake; and a look at post-Katrina New Orleans through the lens of photographer Mario Tama’s multiple visits there, among others.
Reading the Pictures Salon is produced by Liliana Michelena, an independent multimedia producer. Live discussions are moderated by visual expert and University of Illinois professor Cara Finnegan, Nathan Stormer of University of Maine, and others.
The Salon is broadcast online with specialized webinar software. Most posts feature highlighted quotes and a video archive of the event. See our Salon overview here, and an archive of all previous Salons can be found here.
With more than 3,000 posts so far, people often ask about our more representative or important work. You can view our best work by Here is a key sampling of our best work. To see a collection of key work by subject matter, take a look at our Topics feature.
My Lai, Sexual Assault and the Black Blouse Girl: Forty-Five Years Later, One of America’s Most Iconic Photos Hides Truth in Plain Sight What are we to make of this erasure, one that indicates sexual violence in the light of day? And why is it that most Americans readily recognize the “Napalm Girl” but not the “Black Blouse Girl?
Mike Kamber: Military Censorship of the Iraq War This audio slideshow, produced for Reading the Pictures by Sandra Roa, won a Picture of the Year International (POYi) Award of Excellence in the Multimedia Issues Reporting category in 2011. In this one video, Kamber (for the first time) showed and discussed many of the key Iraq war images the government prevented the NY Times from publishing. The piece has been viewed widely and has been included in many exhibition on the history of the war.
When Reality Isn’t Dramatic Enough: Misrepresentation in a World Press and Picture of the Year Winning Photo Widely covered in the photo press (NYT Lens Blog, Photo District News, NPPA, etc.), this post identified the misrepresentation of a photo by the Magnum Agency’s Paolo Pellegrin after it was awarded honors in 2013 by the two top news photo prizes, World Press Photo and (Missouri Journalism’s) Picture of the Year award.
Obama: Channeling Rosa Parks Besides calling out the White House for staging photos (way, way before this) and calling out the media for collusion , we’re the only ones who documented the staging of this widely published photo at the Rosa Parks museum in the middle of a fundraiser.
The Reading the Pictures Salon
How Science is Pictured in the Media and Public Culture: A Joint Reading the Pictures/Seeing Science (UMBC) Salon – A joint Reading the Pictures/Seeing Science/UMBC Salon, interested in science as a social agenda and how science images are being portrayed in visual culture.
Visual Language Is Language: The Importance of Reading the Pictures in Visual Culture (YouTube). In this lecture presented September 2016 at the School of Visual Arts in New York, publisher Michael Shaw describes how Reading the Pictures analyses news and media images for meaning, trends, context and fairness. Of special interest to artists, visual journalists and other visual communicators, he also illustrates how fluency with pictures is central to engagement in today’s information, media and social media sphere.
Reading The Pictures