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Photo by by Lori Swerdlow
Photo by by Lori Swerdlow

A moment in time

Seeing the unseen

by Lori Swerdlow

My journey with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis began in 1982, when I was 24. Since then, I’ve become more challenged but have discovered street photography, a creative outlet that frees me emotionally and keeps me going physically.

With few qualms about going anywhere or doing anything (as long as I can find an outlet to plug in my scooter), I have been to a gazillion places and met as many people. I’m drawn to the simple things we see every day but don’t always take the time to really look at.

Chicago is full of them—from spontaneous street memorials to a hat on a park bench, perhaps misplaced by its owner. But most of all, I love meeting the people who often escape our notice, who let me into their spaces. Like Betty, who has had two surgeries for throat cancer, and who, as we talk, silently shapes words with her lips while the sparkle in her eyes and the movement of her hands express her emotions. Without my camera, our paths may never have crossed.

I often wonder what I’d be doing if I didn’t have MS. For now, my scooter offers the freedom and mobility to live my life for and through my photography. And time stops for me in that split second when I release the shutter and capture the image forever.

Lori Swerdlow is a Chicago-based street photographer.

See more of Lori Swerdlow’s photos and “Lori’s Stories” at

Tags: Spring 2017