Helen Chapman is a keen photographer – when she’s not busy trying to raise funds for Marie Curie, that is. As we stare in the face of lockdown 3, she shares her photography project of 2020, where the eyes tell so much
I’ve led a life of two distinct parts: of happiness and a real fight. I had a wonderful childhood and was a promising athlete until I was 18 when I was driven into by a drunk and drugged driver, causing me serious injuries including a broken back. Since then, life has been full of hospital visits and operations which sometimes feel never ending.
2020 for me was a year unlike any other, work was busier than ever, but I was able to focus a lot of spare time on my favourite hobby photography and combined this with lots of exercise! No walk is dull when you have your camera!
I started thinking about the photography project the minute we went into lockdown as a chance to capture and document what was happening and then I noticed our lives were being taken over by signage, which I put together first. And then, when face masks began to appear in greater quantities, I decided to gather images of people in masks as the eyes can tell such a story of fear, happiness and amazement. In the ‘eyes behind the masks’ video – the black and white shots were during lockdown when things were looking really bad and then the colour photos were about the relief and joy that we thought the pandemic was coming to an end.
I learnt how people really felt about the pandemic. Some were very fearful to the point of living in complete fear and others felt very differently. It was amazing to see how everyone interpreted the same messages in different ways. For myself, it really enabled me to restart my photography hobby and look more into photojournalism instead of my normal landscape and wildlife photography.
It is incredibly difficult to raise the funds we need for our frontline nursing service to look after those with a terminal illness in their own homes overnight. Our information and support services have been stretched to the limits as well, in providing help and advice about the pandemic. As an organisation, we have worked hard to try and balance an increase in demand for our end-of-life services with a decrease in funds. Marie Curie has made use of the furlough scheme, understandably, but we thank everyone who has and continues to raise funds for us.
My hope is to continue to do all I can for the people Marie Curie supports and my amazing volunteers and supporters locally. Personally, I want to broaden my skills with photography and my hope is for family, friends and colleagues to remain safe and well. I think since this pandemic began it’s made me appreciate life far more and the simple things such as fresh air and exercise can bring immense happiness during the most difficult times.