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Oct. 19, 2012

Capturing Nurses

by Annette Heist

Click to enlarge images
Click on icon in upper right corner of slideshow to enlarge images. 
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While the clichéd image of nurses as sexpots in white, pointy caps remains a staple of greeting cards and Halloween costumes, anyone who's been in the hospital in the last 20 years (or watches Nurse Jackie) knows better. Nurses are a diverse group of women and men, and according to photographer Carolyn Jones, they can teach us a lot about humanity. 
 
For her new book The American Nurse Jones travelled across the country, photographing and talking to nurses, including some who work in hospitals, prisons, hospice care and with veterans. Her goal: To find out who they are and what they know about the things that affect us all.
 
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"Nurses know about poverty. They know about war and hunger. They know about coal mining. They know how to better run our health care system. They know how we die," Jones says.  
 
Jason Short, pictured below, used to be an auto mechanic, but closed his business to become a nurse. He works in the emergency room and in hospice care in a coal mining-area of Kentucky, where he grew up. Of his work he says:
“It was important for me to stay here because I love the people in this area. I want to help them. I love going to these houses in the woods because no one else can get there. We’ve got four-wheel-drive vehicles. It helps that I used to be a truck driver and that I like a challenge. “
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For the photos, Jones used a medium-format film camera (a Hasselblad). She says her goal as a photographer was to get at the "truth" of her subjects, while honoring them at the same time. 
 
"There’s a certain formality when you have a camera and a tripod. You are respecting them and their time. Most of the photos are done with natural light, or whatever crappy light that’s in the hospital. I’ll shoot 15 frames and wrap it up. Things aren't retouched. Things aren’t photoshopped. It's just real."

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You can see more photos in the slideshow above. To hear from Jones and the nurses she interviewed check out the videos below and at the American Nurse Project

 

About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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