Behind the Mask - Senior Midwife - Maggie Myatt
As the chill of January glistens our pavements, we bring to you some warmth and inspiration from a Brighton-based midwife who, like us, didn’t quite know quite what was ahead of her this time last year.
Maggie Myatt had her photo taken by portrait photographer Amanda Thomas and it became one of the 100 selected, Behind the Mask, portraits of UK healthcare workers for the 2020 Vision Project. These wonderful photos, alongside stories, bring to light the human story of healthcare workers, who tirelessly worked through the intense period of the Covid-19 pandemic – and continue to do so.
Bringing in new life during a global pandemic
“Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would be working side by side through a global pandemic, caring for our patients and bringing newborns into such a turbulent world. We all know that newborns wait for no one and it has been incredibly humbling to work with the spectre of death all around us as we bring new life safely into the world.” , says Maggie.
I had the privilege to catch up with Maggie recently. She said she was still recouping from a contracting Covid over Christmas, so I was very grateful for her time.
We talked about the last few months, Maggie said how the fall out of summer brought Covid-19 positive women into the labour ward throughout autumn. "Now we have solid systems in place in maternity, but we are now getting more patients coming in with Covid and staff contracting it – it's a vicious cycle."
Championing Racial Equality
As we talked, I discovered that Maggie uses her role as a midwife to voice support for people who may not necessarily be able to represent themselves in a healthcare environment. She developed the REAL Strategy, promoting racial equality in healthcare employment and practice through recognition, equity, advocacy and leadership.
“As a woman of colour I wanted to use my role and my platform to highlight contemporary issues – healthcare issues and work within the NHS."
It's just wonderful to come across inspiring people who bring about positive changes from the adversity they see or experience.
Putting Maggie in the Sea
All 2020 Vision Project photographers were asked to capture healthcare workers behind the mask and away from their obligatory healthcare uniforms. Maggie was delighted be out of her scrubs to take part in this project and have the opportunity to get into her gorgeous white dress for her shoot with Amanda.
“What I love about your project is that it humanises us, it shows how rich and diverse we are."
In July Amanda met Maggie on Brighton's seafront with the idea of getting her into the water for the shoot.
"I had already discussed with Maggie about floating in the sea, and she was happy to submerge herself to get the right shot. By the end of the shoot, she was so delighted floating in the ocean; she was relaxed and laughing." said Amanda
"At the time, I was living in Brighton, and I loved being by the sea. Every day during the first lockdown, I would take a walk to the beach or run along the seafront. When this project came along, I felt compelled to shoot on the beach or in the sea, as it's not the usual place to take a portrait. I wanted to do something different!"
And as a result of her incredible photography for the 2020 Vision Project, Amanda's photos are featured in Photo Plus Canon magazine – we are delighted!
Why did you want to take part in the 2020 Vision Project?
I heard about this fantastic project through a fellow photographer. It caught my attention and sounded like the perfect opportunity to give back to the community while supporting frontline workers by showcasing them in a new light. I was excited about creating new portrait work and exercising my creativity.
What impact do you want to make in 2021?
"This year is all about new beginnings, change and development. Before we can return to normal, I plan to launch an online lighting course and education sessions for photographers, along with writing my book on lighting. It's a new direction for me, and one I'm excited about embracing. I love shooting and working with fashion brands, so I'm looking into reaching further with that and seeing where I can take it." says Amanda.
Each of the ‘behind the mask’ 2020 Vision Project portraits, reflect our healthcare workers’ dedication, resilience, courage and teamwork throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to highlight more stories in 2021. We will uncover the uniqueness in each person and each talented visual storyteller, as we work towards more exhibitions of these beautiful validating portraits.
The 2020 Vision Project is a collective of talented UK portrait photographers and visual storytellers. Each share their creative vision towards a visual commemoration of healthcare workers nationwide.