The opioid crisis is the worst addiction epidemic in American history. Drug overdoses kill more than 64,000 people per year, and the nation’s life expectancy has fallen for two years in a row. But there is a key part of the story that statistics can’t tell. Over the last year, photographer James Nachtwey set out to document the opioid crisis in America through the people on its front lines. Alongside TIME’s deputy director of photography, Paul Moakley, the pair traveled the country gathering stories from users, families, first responders and others at the heart of the epidemic. Here, Nachtwey’s images are paired with quotes from Moakley’s interviews, which have been edited. The voices are a mix of people in the photos and others who are connected to them. The Opioid Diaries is a visual record of a national emergency—and it demands our urgent attention.
While some photographers are on the hunt for the most outrageous image, others become increasingly sensitive to what they shoot. We are confronted with a never ending stream of images that blurs our ability for ethical judgement. I asked Joey Lawrence and Graham Macindoe about their opinion.
When is it acceptable to take and publish a photograph of someone? The camera may “intrude, trespass, distort, [and] exploit,” said Susan Sontag in her book, “On Photography.” It bares the potential to do that. Theory suggests that taking a photograph deprives the subject of power over their own representation and forces the photographer’s vision on them.
For photographers working in documentary, fashion, portrait, or other genres that require photography of others, being reflective of our practice is a necessity. As with every human interaction, when taking a picture, it’s important to be mindful of how your art and actions could affect the other parties involved.
There is a universal attachment to the groundbreakers of film who helped shape and define generations of photography. A wave of heartbreak was felt the world over like a gentle breeze rustling among the leaves and crescendoing throughout the forest upon the news that companies such as Kodak and Polaroid would be ceasing film production several years ago.
The recent surge in popularity and demand for all things analog has revived the medium that was once thought as having met its demise. The ramped up production of Ilford’s black and white film had many wondering if Kodak might follow suit and do the same.
5Living Entity: Spirituality, Industry, and Death on the Ganges
The Ganges River is a symbol of Indian civilization and spirituality—it is a source of poetry and legend that is older than Athens or Jerusalem. For centuries, people have journeyed here to find the heart of Hindu culture in India. As part of the preservation and renewal of ancestral traditions, food, flowers and other religious offerings are set afloat across its waters every day. But now, the Ganges is on the brink of an ecological crisis.
It is a common belief among Hindu pilgrims that these waters are so pure and holy that they are exempt from any harm. And yet, every year, roughly 32,000 corpses are cremated in Varanasi, contaminating the waters and those who bathe in it. With the addition of rotting animal carcasses, a foamy layer of scum is often seen along some parts of the river. In addition, the cities on its banks have inadequate sewer systems and sewage treatment plants, adding to the toll of children who suffer and die from water-borne diseases. Thus, India’s green revolution has also been detrimental: formerly barren lands are heavily irrigated and fertilized, leading to an exploitation of water resources and fertilizer runoff into the river.
Sarah Blesener spent most of 2016 at Russian patriotic camps and schools photographing teenagers learning military tactics and love of country. She had hoped her images would spark conversations about the polarization and nationalist rhetoric that marked the last United States presidential campaign.
They did not.
The overwhelming response from Americans when her photographs were published last year centered on Russian nationalism and the moral dilemmas surrounding militarization of youth. The most common reaction, she said, was that “other people are nationalists, but Americans are patriots.”
With that in mind, Ms. Blesener, 26, turned to exploring the myriad programs that teach patriotic values and military skills to about 400,000 American children and teenagers. Many were similar to the Russian programs, though she said there was less military training in the United States. She eventually settled on 10 programs, including Utah Patriot Camp, the Border Patrol Explorer program, Young Marines and the Junior R.O.T.C. program.