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The Week in Pictures: March 15 - 22

Bill Tiernan / The Virginian-Pilot via AP

A tearful farewell at a military base in Virginia, a daredevil plunge from 71,500 feet above New Mexico, a fiery festival in Spain, a crumbling monument in Bulgaria and more.

When my colleagues and I look at a week’s worth of unfiltered news images (about 50,000) we begin to see repeating visual themes. For example, every week we see pictures of military personnel deploying to or coming from dangerous places. We see hundreds, sometimes thousands, of political protests. We see images of defenseless people, including children, caught up in horrific world events. We see powerful natural disasters, the change of seasons, attractive celebrities and sporting events of every kind.

The occasional cynic in me sometimes flirts with the idea that photographers have run out of ideas. In my worst moments I wonder why we spend our lives retreading the same ground week after week.

But then I remember that pictures often serve as visual shorthand. I believe they provide a bridge over the the chasm of time, distance and unfamiliar culture. When you see a picture of a military wife’s hands clinging onto her husband’s head in the moments before he deploys to war it reminds you of that person you miss so much, and you empathize. A photographer can help us care in a way that a writer often struggles to achieve.

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Previous episodes of "The Week in Pictures" from 2012

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