Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.
Find out more
We use cookies and similar technologies to optimise your experience when using this site, to help us understand site usage, and to tailor our advertising on third party sites. Read about Cookies and view our Privacy Policy at the bottom of each page on our website at any time.

RPS Members Summer Exhibition | Call for entries now open | Enter your work

Untitled (13 Of 56)DSF 4575
CREDIT: Jules Hunter

The Human Touch: Ethics of working and photographing in ICU

Contemporary Home | Events | News

This is the twenty third blog in a series on COVID-19 and lockdown, edited by contemporaryweb@rps.org and contemporarydeputy@rps.org

 

Untitled (143 Of 213)DSF 4117
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Back Cover (33 Of 61)DSF 4369
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
COMP Covid 2020 3
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Covid 2020 120
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Covid 2020 127
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Covid 2020 162
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Covid 2020 295
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Death Of A Colleague Covid 2020 251
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Fit Testing Covid 2020 10
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Loss Of Colleagues (75 Of 150)DSF 4262 2
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Melissa Comp(149 Of 213)DSF 4123
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
PPE Covid 2020 98
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Rachel (29 Of 56)DSF 4593
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Untitled (20 Of 61)DSF 4356
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Untitled (44 Of 56)DSF 4613
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Untitled (61 Of 61)DSF 4398
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Untitled (141 Of 150)DSF 4329
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Untitled (113 Of 213)DSF 4084
CREDIT: Jules Hunter
Untitled (125 Of 150)DSF 4312
CREDIT: Jules Hunter

In order to care for the patients diagnosed with COVID-19 within ICU (intensive care unit) each member of staff involved had to be ‘fit’ tested for appropriate masks and outfits following UK’s Government and Nursing Council guidelines.

I was one of the first to attend and pass the safety measures to work in ICU from the start of the pandemic at Bassetlaw Hospital.  My colleagues and I attended meetings, briefs, updates and intense rapid training ensuring we were equipped with as much knowledge as possible.

As a professional photographer I watched the days evolve with wide-awake eyes noting each detail of how the team came together to save lives.  I knew I had to catalogue this historical narrative.

I questioned myself “Where does this leave me ethically as a health practitioner and photographer, combining both roles, balancing values and priorities?”

Reflecting on where I once took inspiration during my studies in photography, I sought permission to create a photo journal in homage to the patients and my colleagues. I was aware of colleagues who had contracted COVID-19 during work and that one had died.

The American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange, best known for capturing the spirit of the poor and forgotten during the Depression-era said “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”

As a photographer I have always tended to overthink, question and reflect on each personal project. “What would these photos imply. would I want to have my photograph taken during this time if I were on the other side of the camera in my uniform?” I reflected on the writings of Susan Sontag author of ‘On Photography’ said .“The camera may “intrude, trespass, distort, [and] exploit.”

Similarly Roland Barthes, the French essayist and social and literary critic whose writings on semiotics remain influential for Photography, said in his book ‘Camera Lucida’ “a specific photograph reaches me; it animates me, and I animate it. So that is how I must name the attraction which makes it exist: an animation.”

The ethics of documenting this extremely emotive historical period of the COVID-19 pandemic were of the utmost importance. My images were taken with full permission of the director of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust where I work for as well as from my colleagues.

 

Editor’s Note: Jules Hunter is a qualified Operating Department Practitioner and trained mental health nurse. She has a 1st class Honours degree in fine art photography from Derby University and is a professional photographer. She recently won two Bronzes in the Documentary category of the Rise International Photography Award.

She continues with personal contemporary photography project “Tabula Rasa”.