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  • Writer's pictureSophie Sheinwald

Behind the Mask - Healthcare Worker - Junior Adjepong

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

This is the second in a series of short posts featuring healthcare workers with their portraits taken by UK photographers for the 2020 Vision Project. We bring to light the human story of healthcare workers who tirelessly worked through the intense period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photographers across the UK started photo shoots in July 2020 and we had our very first showcase London exhibition in September 2020.

Recognition of healthcare workers

As the 2020 Vision Project grew, it was important to recognise non-medical healthcare workers as well as the conscientious nurses, doctors, midwives and carers. Every healthcare role is vital to the running of hospitals, care homes and hospices. So we have featured as many roles as possible across the UK – within the constraints of the pandemic and vital safety measures.

Junior Adjepong

Junior is a maintenance worker at Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, Surrey. He was invited to be photographed behind the mask, by portrait photographer Kathryn Chapman for the project.

“Coming in to work every day knowing what was going on with so many lives being lost was difficult for me. It was tough thinking of possibly catching Covid-19 and bringing it home to my family. But the manner in which everyone came together as one to fight Covid-19 really inspired me. The love and support from each other was incredible. I just hope we will continue to care and appreciate each other. “

It's incredible how the sentiment of coming together and camaraderie has been a running theme throughout this project from so many healthcare workers. What's been evident is a sheer necessity to support one another to get through the severity of the pandemic.

Which is why the 2020 Vision Project struck photographer Kathryn Chapman (pictured right) as a very beautiful and meaningful way to pay tribute to all the healthcare workers who showed such extraordinary courage.

“I was delighted that I could be part of the tribute to those who consistently put themselves out to look after the rest of the country. My brother is an anaesthetist in Bath and my mum had been a nurse for most of her working life, so it felt really significant to be able to honour healthcare workers in this way, the best way I can.”

“The Princess Alice Hospice had looked after a very dear friend in the early part of 2020. Every time I walked into the hospice, I was struck with the calm, loving and incredibly friendly atmosphere - I’m in awe of how they manage to create such an incredible space when they are caring for such poorly people, right at the end of their lives. It’s one of the most moving things I’ve experienced.

Junior really understood the principles behind the project and I was taken with his gentle and soulful presence. I instantly knew I wanted to photograph him at dawn - Junior with the rising of the sun - I felt it would perfectly mirror my sense of who he was."

Kathryn's photo session with Junior

"There's a community rec immediately opposite the hospice which was a perfect location. A wide open area with the sense of freedom and peace, you get from being out in nature at dawn, on a warm July morning. I wanted Junior to have the space to feel connected and un-rushed. We met at 6am before his shift started at 7am.

I work almost entirely on instinct and am interested in photographing the essence of people, so I connect with clients as deeply as I can before we start shooting. On the day, I found out more about who Junior is and what drives him - a proud family man, a deep thinker and huge empath (my words not his!). Junior told me how he loves to help people and I learnt how he goes above and beyond at any opportunity. His main focus is to make life easier for people and his job allows him to do this with a generosity and depth that can't be measured. ‘It’s the little things that matter when you’re facing the end of your life’, he said, with unassuming grace and humility. I don’t think it gets much more meaningful than that."

Meaningful photography

Each portrait photographer has contributed something unique, as they've brought to the project something of themselves. Each have made a heartwarming connection to healthcare workers. Please do stay tuned as we feature more healthcare workers and the story behind the story.

"I left the shoot that day feeling that my life was infinitely better having connected with Junior and was thrilled to hear, a few weeks later, that his talents had been recognised at the hospice with a fantastic promotion."

The ‘behind the mask’ 2020 Vision Project portraits, reflect our healthcare workers’ dedication, resilience, courage and teamwork throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We share the human story and over the coming weeks we will be highlighting more stories, as we work towards more exhibitions of these beautiful validating portraits.

The 2020 Vision Project is a collective of talented UK portrait photographers and visual storytellers. Each share their creative vision towards a visual commemoration of healthcare workers nationwide.

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