Michael Shaw, Publisher

Michael is an analyst of news photography and visual journalism, a frequent lecturer and writer on visual politics, photojournalism, and media literacy, and the founder and publisher of Reading the Pictures. He is also a Clinical Psychologist and organizational consultant in private practice. His clinical training involves the analysis of character styles, and his research has dealt with the creative process, visual thinking, and how metaphors can create psychological insight.

This site came from humble beginnings. In 2001, Michael created a cartoon called “BagNews” to engage his young sons and their friends in news and civics. Each edition captured the New York Times top story in one picture sketched on a lunch bag. In 2014, coinciding with the emergence of the blogosphere, “BagNewsNotes” was born to analyze news images. The site’s motto at the time stated: “Thousands of sites read the words, only one reads the pictures.”

Michael has presented papers or hosted panels at various conferences and photo festivals, including Photoville; Rhetoric Society of America (RSA); the Society for Photographic Education (SPE); and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), and he has lectured about photography and visual culture at schools such as Texas A&M; Northwestern; The School of Visual Arts (SVA); and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). His writing has been featured in publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, The New Republic, Salon, and American Photo.


Cara Finnegan, Editor-at-Large, and Co-Host Chatting the Pictures

Cara Finnegan is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. She joined the university in 1999 after completing her Ph.D. at Northwestern University. She holds affiliated appointments in the Center for Writing Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Art History. She was named a University Scholar in 2017.

Finnegan’s research examines the role of photography as a tool for public life. Photographs are powerful forms of communication: they visualize social issues, make visible those who are often invisible, and foster or limit bonds of identification. Her book-length projects are best described as rhetorical histories of photography, in that she examines the production, composition, circulation, and reception of photographs at specific moments in U.S. history. Her new book, Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital will be published by University of Illinois Press in Spring 2021.

Finnegan’s ideas about photography and visual politics have been featured in a variety of publications in the fields of Communication and U.S. History, as well as in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, CBS, and Vox.


Philip Perdue, Editor

Philip Perdue is Assistant Professor of English and Communication Studies at Presbyterian College. He earned his PhD in Rhetoric in 2019 from Indiana University, Bloomington. He brings formal training in commercial art and design to critical analysis of the visual culture of Christian nationalism in the US. His scholarship and teaching engage the rhetoric of educational media, with a special focus on images, photographs, and illustrations that symbolically construct the United States as a Christian nation. He teaches courses in communication and visual rhetoric, and he encourages his students to think with images.


Katie Irwin, Academic Outreach and Development

As the Academic Outreach and Development associate, Katie connects teachers, scholars, and students to Reading the Pictures’ published material. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Gender and Women’s Studies minor. During her eight years of university teaching, she taught undergraduate courses on visual politics, political communication, and public argument. With a background in academic research and teaching and a sustained interest in how images do public, persuasive work, Katie brings to Reading the Pictures a perspective that visual literacy is crucial for learning and living in the world.


Liliana Michelena, Producer, Chatting the Pictures,

Liliana is a reporter, multimedia producer and former professional soccer player from Lima, Peru. She was a correspondent at the 2016 Rio Olympics for El Comercio, and later covered the aftermath for The Associated Press. Her work has also been published by The New York Times, The Guardian and Spain’s El Pais. Liliana graduated from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in 2013, and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2018.


Bethany Berard, Publications Editor

Bethany is a visual culture researcher and teacher. She is currently a PhD Candidate and Instructor in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University, and the Assistant Editor of the Candian Journal of Communication. Her dissertation connects the history of photography to the development of ideas about information. She researches and writes on a variety of aspects of visual culture from the development of emoji, to the significance of images from/of space, and the elemental nature of photography.


Peter Brook

Pete Brook is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and curator. He is editor of Prison Photography, a website that analyzes imagery produced within, and about, prisons. Pete has an Art History M.A. (University of St Andrews) and an Art Gallery and Museum Studies M.A. (University of Manchester). He has lectured internationally on the topic of photography, taught art in prisons, volunteered with Books To Prisoners and served as a board member with University Beyond Bars. His work has been featured in publications such as  The New York Times, The British Journal of Photography, Wired, Aperture, and The Marshall Project.


Leslie Hahner

Leslie A. Hahner is a scholar who studies the way visual artifacts and experiences impact public culture. Her work has appeared in numerous communication outlets, including Argumentation & Advocacy, Critical Studies in Media Communication, The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.


Robert Hariman

Robert Hariman is a professor in the department of communication studies at Northwestern University. His publications include The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship, which he co-authored with John L. Lucaites. He and John Lucaites maintained the blog No Caption Needed, which provided commentary on photojournalism, politics, and culture.


Jens E. Kjeldsen

Jens E. Kjeldsen is Professor of rhetoric and visual communication at Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen (Norway), where he has worked as deputy head of department and board member for The Faculty of Social Sciences. He is the initiator and immediate past president of the organization Rhetoric Society of Europe (RSE), and a co-founders of Rhetorica Scandinavica, the journal of Scandinavian research in rhetoric. His main interest is visual rhetoric and argumentation, political speechmaking and speechwriting, rhetoric in public communication, and the teaching of writing. He is presently working on projects dealing with the rhetoric of the immigration debate; political television debates; everyday rhetoric and rhetorical working through; and credibility, trust, and ethos in a hybrid media ecology.


Wendy Kozol

Wendy Kozol is professor and program director of Comparative American Studies with a concentration in visual culture studies. Her research and teaching interests include visual culture studies, comparative feminist theories and methodologies, and militarization, human rights and visual witnessing. Her most recent book is Distant Wars Visible: The Ambivalence of Witnessing (2014). This latest book examines a range of visual cultures that depict 21st century US military conflicts to consider the politics of spectatorship and empathy shaping visual witnessing practices.


K.C. McGinnis

Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. 


Christa Olson

Christa Olson is Associate Professor of Composition & Rhetoric in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her scholarship and teaching focus on how pictures shape values and beliefs, especially at the level of national identity. Much of her work, including her book Constitutive Visions is about rhetorical history and visual culture in Latin America.