Since the beginning of the pandemic, everyone has been forced into some form of isolation: quarantining at home for the healthy or mildly sick and isolating from everyone other than clinical caregivers for those who are severely sick.
The effect of this extended sense of isolation has taken its toll on everyone. People are more stressed and depressed, and there have been at times a feeling of general malaise. With that said, over the course of the past year, one thing that has been constant is the dedication of front-line clinical staff who provide care as well as connection for those patients who are isolated from their families and everyone close to them.
This image from Unit 82, our Medical Intensive Care Unit, illustrates the connection that our staff works to establish with patients in their care. The two nurses pictured: Emily Carter (back to camera) and Sarah Graciani demonstrated an obvious connection with their patient. What is not visible in this photo is that the patient reached out to Sarah, who instantly took his hand and then leaned in to hear what he was trying to tell her. This patient was talking to Sarah about his desire to have a meal that included pork chops. A mundane conversation, but something that was meaningful to the patient and a demonstration of his hope as he contemplated a future meal.
In still photography, the viewer should make a connection to the content of the image. There are a couple things that I attempted when making this image. The framing gives the viewer the sense of looking through a window and of a physical separation to the subjects, which speaks to the sense of isolation and separation many people have been feeling during the pandemic. The focus on the grasping of the patient’s hand and the comforting touch from Sarah demonstrates the connection that she has with her patient. The body language from Sarah completes this image for me, and without it, this image would not have any feeling. You can see through her gesture that she genuinely cares.
While on assignment, when photographing organic situations, moments like this are fleeting and easy to miss. As I was watching Emily and Sarah providing care to this patient I could see their interactions with him and knew they had established a connection, and hoped I could make an image that demonstrated that connection.