Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.

Reading the Pictures Staff

Michael Shaw Publisher

Headshot 167 Small 110x112An 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.

Founded in June 2003, the non-profit Reading the Pictures (formerly known as BagNewsNotes) began as a civics tool to interest grade school kids in the news. Beginning in mid-2004, spurred by the photo coverage of the Bush-Kerry presidential campaign, Shaw turned his attention to this new “discipline” — the visual analysis of news photography. Today, Reading the Pictures is the only organization dedicated to the daily analysis of news photographs and social images. Reading the Pictures is closely followed on multiple platforms (notably it’s own website, as well as TwitterInstagram and Facebook) by the news and visual media; the photojournalism community; university journalism, photojournalism and communication programs; and citizens interested in politics and visual culture. The site also features the Reading the Pictures Salon, a series that examines how the media and social media visually frame the major news events of our day. The Salon invites photographers, editors and visual scholars to analyze an edit of 9-10 individual images either in person, or in a live webcast with accompanying audience chat.

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); the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC); and the Kern Conference on Visual Communication at RIT. He has lectured at Texas A&M; The School of Visual Arts (SVA); Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD); U. of Illinois; Colgate University; Northwestern University; USC; UCLA; Columbia University; and Indiana University. A regular contributor to The Columbia Journalism Review, Shaw has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Salon, Huffington Post, American Photo, Quartz and

Michael is also a Clinical Psychologist and Organizational Consultant in private practice. His clinical training — which is woven into his commentary — involves the analysis of character and character styles. His research has dealt with the creative process, visual thinking, and how metaphors can create psychological insight. Shaw also spent nine years as the consulting psychotherapist at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and five years in the same role at Otis College of Art and Design.

Meg Handler Editor-at-Large

Meg is the former photo editor of The Village Voice. Following The Voice, she worked at U.S. News & World Report, Blender, New York Magazine, COLORS and Polaris Images. In addition to her work with RTP, Meg is the Managing Editor of independent art book publisher, Hat & Beard Press. Over the past two decades Meg has edited a number of books, including the monograph, Phil Stern: A Life’s WorkPAPARAZZI by Peter Howe, and POT CULTURE by Shirley Halperin and Steve Bloom,  Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 80’s, and DETROIT UNBROKEN DOWN by Dave Jordano. Meg recently co-curated ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets! New York 1980-2000, at the Bronx Documentary Center, up through March 5 2017. After 20 years of immersion in the photography business, and having worked with some of the great photographers in New York and abroad, Meg now lives in Chicago. Meg received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from The Rochester Institute of Technology.

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.

 Sandra Roa Producer, Reading the Pictures Salon

Sandra C Roa is a documentary photographer who has expanded her storytelling into radio, video, and print journalism. She recently completed a Masters degree for foreign reporting from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. During her studies, she interned in The New York Times video unit and the Lens blog. Her work has been internationally published and exhibited. Since 2007 Sandra has been a faculty member at the International Center for Photography. She is based in London.

Cara Finnegan Moderator, Reading the Pictures Salon

Cara Finnegan writes and teaches about visual politics for a living. She is a professor in the communication department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where her research explores the role photography has played in the history of U.S. public life. Cara is the author of Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs (Smithsonian, 2003) and numerous articles and reviews about the history of photography. She keeps the blog first efforts and has served as the moderator of the Reading the Pictures Salon since 2008. Cara is also a contributor to Reading the Pictures Notes.


Reading the Pictures Contributing Writers

Rebecca A. Adelman

Rebecca A. Adelman is an Associate Professor of Media & Communication Studies, specializing in visual culture, political theory, trauma studies, ethics, and cultural studies of war, terrorism, and militarization.  She earned her Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary Comparative Studies from The Ohio State University in June 2009, and came to UMBC that August.   Her primary appointment is in MCS where she has taught 222, 333, 334, and capstone courses on “Visualizing America.” She is also an affiliate faculty member in Gender and Women’s Studies as well as Language, Literacy & Culture, and teaches MFA students in the Imaging and Digital Arts program. She has published on spectatorship, transparency, and visual ethics, methodologies, and pedagogies as they intersect with militarized violence. Her book, Beyond the Checkpoint: Visual Practices in America’s Global War on Terror  (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014) maps the visual circuits linking the terrorized American nation-state, its citizens, and its enemies by exploring the practices of image creation, circulation, and consumption that animate these relationships.

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 by The New York Times, The British Journal of Photography, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, and Seattle Weekly. He has curated shows including, Non Sufficient Funds, Vermillion Gallery, Seattle, WA (Apr 2010); Cruel and Unusual, Noorderlicht Gallery, Holland (Feb-Apr 2012); The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs, Photoville, New York (Sept. 2013); Seen But Not Heard, Kulturni Centar Belgrada, Belgrade, Serbia (Dec, 2013); and Prison Obscura (2014). Pete has contirbuted to numerous photographer monographs and his writing has appeared in Wired, Aperture, Medium, CNN, The Marshall Project and others.

Michael Butterworth

Dr. Michael L. Butterworth (Ph.D., Indiana University, 2006) is the Director of the Center for Sports Communication & Media and Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  His research explores the connections between rhetoric, democracy, and sport, with particular interests in national identity, militarism, and public memory.  He is the author of Baseball and Rhetorics of Purity: The National Pastime and American Identity during the War on Terror, co-author (with Andrew Billings and Paul Turman) of Communication and Sport: Surveying the Field, and editor of Sport and Militarism: Contemporary Global Perspectives. Dr. Butterworth serves as Chair of the Communication and Sport Division for the National Communication Association and Secretary of the Sports Communication Interest Group for the International Communication Association.  He previously served as the Founding Executive Director of the International Association for Communication and Sport.  Dr. Butterworth earned his Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Public Culture at Indiana University-Bloomington.

Robert Hariman

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

Wendy Kozol

Wendy KozolWendy Kozol is professor and program director of Comparative American Studies with a concentration in visual culture studies. She joined the Oberlin faculty in 1992, first in the History Department and then in Gender and Women’s Studies Program before moving to her present position. 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. Other recent publications include two essays co-authored with Rebecca A. Adelman ’01, “Ornamenting the Unthinkable: Visualizing Survival Under Occupation,” Women’s Studies Quarterly (Spring/Summer 2016); and “Discordant Affects: Ambivalence, Banality, and the Ethics of Spectatorship.” Theory & Event (Fall 2014).

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.