"If you had to describe how you feel about your job in just one word, what word would you choose?" This is the question that photographer and healthcare professional Brian Maina put to the NHS nurses he photographed over the course of a year. He says the idea for his social project, The Face Of Our Nurses, was born in 2017 when he had just left his nursing job to study medicine. As a nurse, he had seen and felt the pressure that nurses deal with on a daily basis, and wanted to highlight these difficulties through a series of photographs.
“Whilst studying medicine, I returned to the hospitals and asked several nurses to tell me in one word how they felt as nurses at that time and to also allow me to take a picture of them at that moment to accompany the word,” he explains.
“They weren’t given any instruction on how to pose or what word to say. But out of the 30 original pictures that I took, only two of them were accompanied with overwhelmingly positive words. This motivated me to display the images and words in an exhibition that would spark a conversation on the effects that the current healthcare system has on its clinical employees and therefore aid or act as a catalyst in the conversation for positive change in the NHS.”
His exhibition, which depicted nurses from different departments and disciplines including cardiology, A&E and paediatrics, was first displayed at the Camden Image Gallery in March just before the lockdown began. He intends to continue to develop the project further by including other nurses and clinicians, as well as displaying more images at another exhibition once it’s safe to do so. In order to get a better sense of the issues the UK’s nurses are currently facing, we spoke to Brian about why he decided to start the project and how he plans to expand it, as well as his own experiences working as a healthcare professional.