Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Larry Banks

Committee Chair and Members

Larry Banks, Chair

Maureen Nappi

Michael Grimaldi


Covid-19 frontline workers, Healthcare workers, Healthcare workers experiences, Healthcare workers sacrifices, Pandemic


Photographing the healthcare workers and focusing on their struggles gives their perspective to the pandemic. In Regarding the Pain of Others, the writer and philosopher Susan Sontag suggests that photographs can provide insight into the lives of people who have lived through conflicts such as war and terrorists’ attacks, (not unlike the pandemic), as well as hinder the narrative and devalue their efforts. In this paper, I intend to show how photography has been used to narrate the truth of historical and current events.

Beginning with Roger Fenton’s photographs of the Crimean war in 1855, there is an extensive catalog of photographs documenting multiple wars and the catastrophic events. These photographs are consistent with death, destruction and suffering in the most intense form. In his book Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, the theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes associated photography with death, as he felt that it bears witness to something that is no more. “In Plato’s Cave,” an essay in her book On Photography, Susan Sontag wrote:

Living with the photographed images of the suffering…does not necessarily strengthen conscience and the ability to be compassionate… Once one has seen such images, one has started down the road of seeing more—and more. Images transfix. Images anesthetize” (Sontag, 20).

This project challenges Barthes and Sontag perspective that photography is associated with death. I intend to decouple the linkage of photography to death by documenting this pandemic in perhaps, less dramatic, and more intimate ways, while I hope still provoking the same response. The focal point is the individual healthcare workers on the frontline, who are directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This paper will also for argue for a humanizing documentation. This project includes photographs of previous wars and from the current pandemic taken from a humanizing perspective. The unmasking is revealing the healthcare workers and their personal experiences with Covid-19.

Included in

Fine Arts Commons