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  • Writer's pictureSophie Sheinwald

Revealing Healthcare Workers - Behind the Mask

As we approach Valentines, we take this opportunity to unveil some more intimate photographs that were lovingly taken of healthcare workers behind the mask. Sussex portrait photographer, Faye Collyer Rolls of Phase Photography, was keen to follow her heart and invite selected healthcare workers to a special boudoir shoot for the 2020 Vision Project.

And for the very first time we reveal selected portraits from Faye's collection.

Why did you choose Boudoir?

Faye told us why she decided on boudoir photo sessions for the project. "Our health care workers are undoubtedly doing an amazing job and have an overwhelming dedication for what they do. My passion lays within boudoir and nude photography, so with the ethos of this project in mind, I decided for my volunteers to take off more than just their masks!“.

She explained further, "By the time our healthcare workers return home from an endless shift, they may feel far from being in the mood to release their inner beauty. This project is their opportunity to say ‘Hay, we’re real people, we’re beautiful, we’re sexy!’ – and there is no shame in that. No matter what shape or size a person is, our stretch marks, scars, lumps and bumps, it makes us who we are.”

Showing love and appreciation

Before the healthcare workers arrived at Faye's studio in Brighton, she arranged beautiful boxes of treats for them. Each took away a bottle of bubbles and a special studio voucher for them to pop back another time with their family.

Something other than wearing PJs and Uniform!

When asked why she said 'yes' to a boudoir photo session, East Surrey Hospital nursing assistant, Joanne Coward said, "I wanted to wear something other than pjs or work uniform. I wanted to feel like I could still look good after everything I’ve been through". Joanne struggled with being classed as extremely vulnerable due to cancer, she was desperate to get clearance to return to work. Luckily in August she was back supporting her colleagues and helping her elderly patients who she very much cares for.

“The shoot made me feel amazing, it gave me a massive confidence boost. I don’t think I would have been able to do it if Faye hadn’t been so good at making me feel at ease. I loved seeing the photos – it took me a while to believe they were actually me.” said Joanne.

Behind closed doors

Faye Collyer Rolls of Phase Photography, Brighton

"Boudoir was definitely a risky genre to go forward with and not without its challenges. But I was not short on volunteers, all of whom where privileged to be considered for the task!", says Faye.

"There was no way of forgetting that these volunteers are working professionals, a couple of whom after requesting consent from their employer, needed to withdraw. Looking back, I believe that if those employers saw the finished portraits now, they would have admired that individual person for braving it and showing the world that they are human."

How were you affected by the pandemic?

"My wife and I have continued to work, not in the same capacity, but we have a lot to be grateful for. The studio has sadly been closed longer than it’s been open in the last ten months. The hardest part of that has been seeing so many new and expectant mums missing out on their maternity and newborn photo shoots. You only get one chance to capture those precious moments, so to see many families missing out on these once in a life time opportunities is heart breaking. I see this as an opportunity to bounce back better and stronger than ever."

"The portraits that I have created though this project will also be used towards gaining my Associate qualification with the Master Photographers Association, so I thank this project for giving me the motivation to grow."

Top left, healthcare assistant, Stacey Harrington “ At the end of shifts, we all gathered and just reflected on the day that had passed. It really helped many of us come to terms with the things we had seen and the stories we'd been a part of. The strength and support from the team has been incredible and continues to grow with each new challenge we face. I've never been prouder to work with such an amazing team and an amazing organisation.”

Top middle, nursing associate, Molly Cox “It really has been the most stressful experience of my 4 years working for the NHS and most likely will always be. I cannot think of a more rewarding job than nursing, there are days where you feel like you haven’t done enough, but seeing the smiles on my patients faces makes it all worth it.”

Top right, Mike Cassidy-Hogg, Chiropractor, “I flew home from a family holiday the day before lock-down happened. I had to get back for work and my wife and 6 month old daughter were meant to be just behind me. We were separated for ten weeks, the hardest thing for me wasn't dealing with the virus, it was being apart from my family with no idea when I'd see them again.”

Bottom left, nurse Janie Burrage, ”The national response to the pandemic and how the UK fully embraced its keyworkers and the work we do. Never in my career have I seen such passion and love for the NHS. Before this, we only ever heard bad news stories in the media."

The 2020 Vision Project

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.

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 stories, as we work towards more exhibitions of these beautiful validating portraits.

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