Rachel’s photos focus on her team’s achievements during Covid-19 pandemic

Cambridge M1 team taken by ward manager Rachel Giles. The image is a grid of individual portraits of staff who are all wearing face masks

Published on 20 April 2021

A senior NHS nurse who took up photography during lockdown has used her newfound skills to create a unique portrait of her team during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rachel Giles, ward manager of Cambridge M1 ward at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, joined a weekly zoom course in photography and found the subject gave her a much-needed outlet away from work.

And after some experimental shots of her colleagues won praise from her tutor, she decided to photograph each member of her staff as a lasting reminder of their shared experiences caring for Covid-19 patients.

Rachel, who has worked at the hospital for more than 24 years, said: “I am so proud of my team and how everyone has stepped up and done whatever has been asked of them.

“There has been huge pressure on the staff but they have carried on, supporting each other and caring for our patients.

“I took a few pictures of people with their masks on, and when I shared them people seemed to like them, so I thought it would be a way of acknowledging this year and what we have all been through.”

The individual portraits were turned into a collage, which was printed and framed by Rachel’s tutor as a gift to thank her and her team for their work during the pandemic.

She said: “Wearing masks affects how we see each other, and how we communicate, and I think the photos illustrate that – you are drawn to people’s eyes and this year we have learned to see a lot about how someone is by looking at their eyes.

“We have found we are raising our eyebrows instead of smiling, because you just can’t see a smile behind a mask.

“But the images show the resilience of the team – like everyone in the NHS we were thrown in at the deep end at the start of the pandemic but we are still here and still smiling, even if it is behind the mask.”

The collage is displayed on the ward for patients and staff to see.