Life Behind The Front Line : by Holly Johnson, COVID-19 Responses

Life Behind The Front Line

Holly Johnson is an artist and photographer based in Stoke on Trent. She is a portrait and event photographer who specialises in studio work and colourful, vibrant portraits. Since the onset of the pandemic, Holly has became particularly interested in highlighting the work and lives of local key workers and in her project she documents three individuals through a series of intimate photographs and interviews.

Life Behind The Front Line
by Holly Johnson

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Project Statement 

The current pandemic has forced our attention to members of society working on the frontline, protecting those who are directly affected and most vulnerable. We thank those in uniform, we clap for the NHS, we put rainbows in our windows. But what if we as a society valued our key-workers the way we value celebrities? What if we showed the same interest in nurses, care workers, police officers and teachers as we show in actors, singers, reality TV stars and, for some reason, the Kardashians?

Life Behind the Front Line is a series of photos shining a spotlight on 3 local key workers from Stoke-on Trent working frontline roles, imitating the styles of magazine and journalist photography. These images present a vision of a hypothetical world where the interest of the public is focused on those who never stopped working, protecting and caring for us.

As someone who was furloughed and had a very isolated lockdown, it’s easy to be consumed by our only means to social interaction, TV and social media. It’s easy to forget about the people who kept on working and the struggles others have faced. Through this work I hope to highlight and celebrate the efforts of our local key-workers while simultaneously examining the way in which our society corrals and commodifies its most valued members – whoever they may be.

To accompany the portraits I recorded the subject’s audio to offer a deeper insight into their roles.

About the Artist
Holly Johnson is a self-taught professional photographer from Stoke-on-Trent. She has been working as a photographer for 7 years and currently works both freelance and in a studio. She is also creative director of a mixed-arts events organisation and runs a hat-making company.

Holly began her career photographing UK soundsystem events, which grew into a passion for expressive and colourful portraits inspired by nightlife, art, music and youth culture. Since the onset of the pandemic, Holly has become particularly interested in highlighting the work and lives of local key workers and will be documenting these through a series of intimate photos and interviews.

Image Credit: Holly Johnson

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.