Some of the bravest people on the planet are the front-line workers who have put themselves in harm’s way time and again to treat COVID-inflicted patients. At great personal cost — both physically and mentally — these healthcare workers continue to do their jobs day after day. One of those workers, nurse Mary McGinn, was the subject of a HealthLeaders Media piece shot by Adam Lerner. Though a bit wary of going to a hospital to complete the work, Adam felt more at ease once he got a sense of how many precautions the nurses take to ensure as safe an environment as possible.
I shot the cover and inside spread of Mary McGinn, BSN, RN, at Lenox Hill Hospital and we followed safe work practices for the portraits. I did this shoot without an assistant and only brought a small editorial lighting kit and white seamless with me knowing they’d be taking the image and placing it on a background.
I was a little freaked out going to Lenox Hill Hospital at first but was quickly put at ease by my subject and her devotion to safe work practices. We discussed protocols prior to the shoot, as I do with all my clients and subjects during the pandemic. This time, I knew I was dealing with an expert who takes the virus and safety protocols very seriously.
Like many COVID-era shoots, this one was fairly barebones. But Adam is a longtime New Yorker, so he understands the importance of travelling light to get to work. Hence, he’s as good a candidate for this kind of job as you can find.
It’s not that unusual for me to do editorial portraits on my own. Since so much of my work is in New York City, I’ve learned to adapt and have a small editorial setup that I use for these types of shoots.
I typically bring only what I need and for an editorial portrait like this. I used a two-light setup — one for key and one for fill. All lights are battery-powered so I can easily move around my location without concern for power outlets and extension cords. All of this lighting, grip, and my camera gear fits on one rolling cart that I can fit in the trunk of an Uber.
Adam was asked to get a cover shot and imagery for an inside spread, with photographs being taken inside the hospital and just outside of it. Mary was initially reluctant to be shot without a mask, but that changed after all parties were acclimated to the setup.
My agent at Getty Images landed me this job. The pitch was for a cover portrait and inside spread with the cover portrait being shot on a white seamless and inside spread could be shot outside.
At first, Mary wasn’t comfortable doing the portrait without the mask, but she eventually decided that it would be safe and we were able to proceed as planned.
I was prepared to shoot her only masked, but we were able to shoot both options and obviously the unmasked won out.
Not that Adam didn’t have it before, but this shoot gave him even more respect for the people who sacrifice their well-being to make us better. We are forever indebted to people like Mary and her colleagues, who continue to fight the good fight each and every day.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for people that are front liners in the healthcare field, especially during the pandemic. And I have so much compassion for [Mary] and any healthcare worker that dealt with the situation in NYC when things were at their worst.
See more of Adam’s work at adamlerner.net.
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