Stephanie Ewens’ Documentary Portrait Project Highlights Essential Workers

#SeeOurFrontliners features those working during the COVID-19 crisis and their experiences.
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Gita Pensa, MD⁣. Photo by Stephanie Ewens.

"As an emergency physician, I treat COVID19 patients and comfort their families. ⁣ ⁣ I'm honored to care for them, but I share the worries of my colleagues about bringing the virus home to my family, being infected myself, and the financial decimation of the health care system and our entire country. ⁣ ⁣ One battle I did NOT expect to be fighting is against the campaign of disinformation about this virus. When I see anti-science propaganda, 'miracle cures', and completely irrational "documentaries" shared on social media, with the comments of people who claim that the virus or the numbers are not real -- it denies the VERY REAL suffering of our patients and the families who have lost loved ones. It's absolutely crushing. I wish they could see what we see. ⁣ ⁣ So to our community: thank you for being responsible in what information your share. Thank you for wearing your masks -- it shows you care about others, and we could all use that now. And thank you for your support!"⁣ -Dr. Gita Pensa ⁣ Thank you Gita for participating in the project and for being out there caring for patients and their families.

Rhode Island photographer Stephanie Ewens recently began a documentary portrait project called #SeeOurFrontliners which highlights COVID-19’s frontline and essential workers. The idea came to her after working on a national initiative called “The Front Steps Project.”

“Much of my day-to-day work went away when the pandemic hit, so I wanted to find a way to continue taking portraits and document the often invisible yet essential people that are keeping our communities going,” says Ewens.

Ewens started the project by reaching out to close friends who introduced her to several frontline workers. She began taking pictures of people at their homes and learned through conversation about these individuals’ experiences during the pandemic. Ewens asked them to write what they were experiencing so she could share their words alongside her images. So far, Ewens has photographed thirty-three individuals who work in healthcare, transportation, education, food delivery, behavioral health and postal delivery. Her portraits, which have been shared on social media, are gaining attention and have received over 200,000 views since they were first posted. She is continuing to look for more companies and organizations that work with essential personnel so these heroes can be highlighted.

“One of the best parts of this project has been the outpouring of love and support for these workers on social media from people that view and comment on the posts. An extra bonus is getting to meet and photograph and learn more about each individual. The hardest part is not being able to hug them when I leave. It really fills up my heart to do this work,” says Ewens.

Ewens’ project is ongoing and essential workers who are interested in being a part of her project are able to schedule an appointment on her website stephanieewens.com/frontliners.

You can also see all the latest posts from the project at instagram.com/stephanie.ewens.photography and facebook.com/StephanieAlvarezEwensPhotography.