As we launch the NHS x Fujifilm photograph competition ‘Our NHS at 75’ – Dr Jon Williamson, has written a blog about what photography means to him alongside his busy role as an NHS anaesthetist.
Photography has played a part in my life since I was a child and, as we evolve and change as people, so can our relationship with our interests and hobbies. Photography can be all manner of things to different people, ranging from fun experimentation in our spare time, documentation of life changing events, or in pursuit of a specific functional or artistic goal. Its diversity and flexibility is huge, and it has fused alongside my career as an anaesthetist, with interests in the outdoors and expedition medicine, as well as education.
I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity of shooting photos in hospital and for educational courses, as well as a large series documenting the Covid-19 pandemic inside an intensive care unit. It’s been a facilitator for reflecting and viewing my job and the wider NHS from new angles. Documenting the pandemic optimised this power to tell a story and how photography can share a narrative, so much so that often creating and engaging with these pieces could be emotionally challenging at times.
Focusing on our stories within healthcare, especially during the pandemic, has made me reflect even more on how ill health can affect anyone, from long term illness to trauma. To be in a position to not worry about how we’ll finance our ill health, amongst all the other challenges it comes with, is incredibly special and something to celebrate as the NHS marks 75 years.
It’s not been as simple as picking up a camera and just shooting what I want, and at times it has been very hard to balance my time and energy towards maintaining and developing my interests alongside a demanding clinical job, in a service that has been stretched more than ever over recent times. There is a struggle we all face to fit in all the things we would like to do, whilst managing our own expectations. However, despite these challenges, I think photography has been a fantastic outlet both inside and outside of work and can change the way we view and interact with our environment.
Of course, balance in life is key, and shooting something not to do with clinical work is high on my agenda and important for headspace, and I enjoy the challenge of anything from adventure to macro photography. Switching your brain to only focus on one thing can be a great way to unwind from other areas in your life, and even my little London patio turned into an area of discovery and joy during the pandemic, using a new macro lens to find and capture small insects and plants.
Jon’s work has been presented and published widely, including work with major publications and events, such as: The Guardian, Tortoise Media, Channel 4 news, Sky News, NBC News, ITV and Photo London.