Photographer Good Boy Wolf was commissioned by The Garden House Hospice to capture their incredible key workers, working through the Covid-19 crisis.
Here is what he has to say about the project:
Never did I imagine the crisis we find ourselves in. A tremendous shock. It has to be the closest scenario in my lifetime to a world war. It doesn’t have the call to action for me like the millions of soldiers in 1939, but if you speak to our incredible key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, they might feel a little more inclined to compare to soldiers.
Whether they are nurses, doctors, cleaners, drivers, teachers, utility workers, your postman and…. The list is endless. Not until this crisis kicked in did I personally ever consider how broad our key workers are until you are threatened with losing them. Of course we see our emergency services as our natural everyday heroes but not until you need to eat, teach your children, get your mail, do you really understand what they REALLY do for us.
I am a commercial photographer, that is my bread and butter. I shoot campaigns for advertising across the globe, and charge a sum of money to get the job done. There is nothing special about what I do, I am not saving lives, just making big companies richer with my images. I always try every year to shoot charity work, it is good for my soul but also a necessity for the charity. They aren’t swimming in millions of pounds to pump into an advertising campaign. It takes the likes of me and the amazing crew I work with to help where they can.
Lockdown came and it stopped all my work. Commercial advertising is closed for the foreseeable future and being ever the creative, I need to keep working. My head doesn’t just stop because Mr Boris said I can’t be a photographer of Good Boy Wolf anytime soon. Having watched the news, and clapped every Thursday night, I am nothing but proud of our amazing NHS staff for what they are doing. But as we are all learning very quickly the key worker title is much broader. But we don’t seem to celebrate what they do for us.
I decided to undertake a personal project. To research, contact and photograph ALL our key workers. I have met some incredible people, each and everyone of them, going out to work everyday, at risk of their own life, their families and the people around them to keep us moving, keeping us educated, fed, watered and safe. In total I have photographed 21 key workers. I have photographed nurses, doctors, paramedics, utility workers, cleaners, volunteers, advisors, supermarket employees…. I can tell you now, there were two common traits with all the people. 1) They are all scared of getting ill and making their family ill and 2) Not one person made one negative comment about going to work, they all wanted to be there to help others.
I was in awe. It put everything into perspective. They aren’t going to work to earn money, we all know they don’t earn as much as they should, and I really hope the one positive to come out of this crisis is they are noticed more and it is reflected in their pay.
Having photographed eight people in the project I was approached by the Garden House Hospice which is based in Hertfordshire. Originally by one of their amazing nurses, and then I was passed onto their head of communications Beth, who instantly became a super producer and pulled all the amazing key workers together in very short notice.
The tricky thing about anything Covid is the social distancing. I am a very tactile photographer, I like to talk, stand close, make everyone on set feel comfortable. We are part of one big team, but with the strict two-metre distance that makes it very hard. Beth stood from a distance, laptop armed, each person scheduled in advance. A clear maker on the floor of where to stand, one single light (if you are interested it was a Profoto B10plus with a 120cm Elinchrom Octa.) I had 15 minutes with each person because it was a working day and I was very lucky to get those 15 precious minutes during our current situation.
I had no crew with me, I had no production producer, it was just me and the mighty Beth. It is always difficult to imagine how well a shoot can go when you go it alone, no crew, no backing, no anything, but it went incredibly well. The 11 people I photographed at the hospice were so warm, passionate, accommodating and emotive in their pursuit for the best images. I was incredibly moved and proud to have met these lovely people. Each with their own very powerful story.
My interpretation of a hospice is a sad sad place where people go to die, but I discovered it was far more than that. It contained a huge family, a circle of friends and people that didn’t go to work because they had to, they went because they wanted to.
Covid has hit the hospice incredibly hard. Heavily reliant on their charity shops for revenue, which are now all closed, they are currently dealing with a loss of £25,000 a week. I was blown away by this. I presumed they would be government funded, but they are 100% dependent on their shops. As if they already weren’t going through enough heartache they have to deal with the massive monetary loss. This won’t stop their pursuit in giving the best care, and they have started a fundraiser to help plug the missing funds. As of last week I believe it was near £125k currently raised. Incredible. They are going to use my images for their advertising campaigns to raise money, which I couldn’t be more prouder.
Click to view full screen
Garden House Hospice Care provide personalised and compassionate palliative end of life care for local people in need. Covid-19 is a threat to their patients, to their staff, and to their future.
Help them to continue to care, today, tomorrow and in the future.