The June 5 & 12 issue of The New Yorker features a long "Reporter at Large" article by Margaret Talbot called "The Addicts Next Door: West Virginians fighting to save opioid abusers—and their town—from destruction." It's a long, engrossing article, if one that's difficult to read.
The article includes a series of mini-profiles of a number of people, and one of the first ones featured is Lori Swadley, a successful wedding, portrait and boudoir photographer from the Martinsburg, West Virginia area. Despite obviously having lots else to do, Lori started an Instagram series called "52 Addicts."
Courtesy Lori Swadley, used with permission
Lori says in The New Yorker story that she herself was inspired by a reporter named Jenni Vincent, whose byline was on many of the stories about overdose deaths in The Martinsburg Journal online. "You could tell she wanted the problem to be known," Lori told Margaret Talbot. "Because at that time it seemed like everybody else wanted to hide it. And, to me, that seemed like the worst thing you could do."
That took me back to my son's first girlfriend, a bright, personable 14-year-old named Katelyn who I know I'll never be able to forget. Despite a loving mother (we didn't know her dad), Katelyn died of an overdose at 20—and there was no mention anywhere of how she died.
I spoke to Lori on Saturday, and she said she wondered when she was talking to the reporter whether there would be any negative blowback for her business, but she's found that all the responses to the work and the publicity have been positive.
Great admiration to Lori for taking on her "sideline" project for the sake of transparency and honesty and to honor those among her neighbors and her community who are struggling against the epidemic.
(Thanks to Lori)
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