During COVID: Jon Morgan and His Sister Photograph Frontline Nurses
As COVID-19 has interrupted daily life, people from every profession have had to figure out ways to be productive — and photographers are no exception. Each week, we'll share stories from our members about how they're staying mentally and technically sharp during the pandemic.
It takes an immeasurable amount of bravery to see trouble coming and run toward it. Sure, if you’re a firefighter, a police officer, or — in this context — a nurse, that’s your job. But it doesn’t make the people Jon Morgan recently photographed any less courageous.
Jon’s sister is an educator at a number of dialysis clinics, so while the patients there aren’t afflicted with COVID-19, they are severely immunocompromised and would be more susceptible than most if they contracted the virus. Like with any medical building, strict protocols are in place to ensure the patients inside are as safe as they can be. While adhering to the rules, Jon got shots of the nurses at the clinics as they held up signs proclaiming their biggest coronavirus-related fears.
I visited three clinics and was screened at each. I socially distanced at six feet minimum and touched nothing inside.
We had access to about 20 volunteers for portraits, and each session took roughly 5-10 minutes as I wanted a quick real reaction and not something more posed. Obviously, I placed the volunteers where I thought the shot was strongest but they wrote their own messages and posed themselves. I just framed. This was a quick turn around and most nurses, social workers, and receptionists were all shot in one day.
It would be impossible for Jon to not be self-conscious of his breathing in a place like this, but the urge to tell a story that needs to be told kept him going. As you can infer, Jon shared the same apprehensions as many of his subjects.
Inside the clinics was normal operating procedures, despite COVID-19. These nurses are always prepared with face shields and PPE due to the nature of compromised immune systems of their patients.
I definitely noticed my breathing and was conscious of everything inside being sensitive to patients off camera and not wanting to cause undue stress by pointing a camera but also felt the need to tell this story. I spent about an hour at each clinic. My biggest fear was, by far, being an asymptomatic carrier and transmitting.
Through it all, the nurses’ silent courage shined through. These medical professionals have to cut strong, stable figures for their patients. They can’t let understandable fears get in the way of doing their job — and none of them do. It gave Jon an immense sense of pride because his sibling is one of the people leading the way.
I felt their pride and camaraderie throughout all the nurses at each clinic for the essential work they continued to do. No one showed signs on the floor of stress or anxiety. No one complained. They did their jobs every day just they always do even though an unseen virus could literally kill any of them or their patients and wreak havoc in the clinic. I felt proud, honestly, because my sister leads most of that team and they are truly doing the good work.
Check out more of Jon's work at jonmorganphotography.us.
Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!
Check out how WM is helping photographers during the pandemic on our COVID-19 Resources page.