Glenna Gordon shot a photo series on the ins and outs of health workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone getting ready for the tough task of stopping the spread of the ebola virus in their country. Wired magazine interviewed the photographer, who has spent several years working in West Africa as a photojournalist:
Glenna Gordon‘s revealing portraits of African healthcare workers suiting up to combat Ebola are more than instructional. They are touching. By showing us the brave men and women beneath all that protective gear, she’s humanized the people risking their lives under trying conditions so others might live.
The photos, taken in Liberia and Sierra Leone, show the laborious process of donning the suits that must be worn while tending to the sick, the dying and the dead. Seeing volunteers add one layer of protection after another until only their eyes are visible underscores the risk they are taking. And by starting each series with a portrait of the person wearing only hospital scrubs, Gordon literally puts a face to the bravery.
“I think sometimes we become desensitized to stories like this,” the photographer says. “If you’ve seen one person in a hazmat suit, it’s like you’ve you seen 10. I wanted to make sure we remembered these are normal people who are volunteering to help. No one is being forced to go.”
The images do indeed put a brave face on what Western media doesn’t generally get to see – brave Africans at the forefront of repairing their communities devastated by the ebola outbreak.1