NHS staff celebrated in 'life changing' portraits by celebrity photographer Rankin

  • Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar

Celebrated portrait photographer Rankin, who has shot hundreds of famous faces including the Queen and Kate Moss, has said his latest project photographing hospital workers on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis moved him to tears.

The photographer travelled round the country at the height of the pandemic to take pictures of 12 people playing a vital role in the NHS response to mark the anniversary of the health service.

  • London GP Farzana Hussain on what it was like being photographed by Rankin

The portraits include a cleaner, porter, pharmacist, nurse, midwife and 111 call handler, as well as an ICU consultant, midwife, paramedic and IT worker.

The collection will be showcased around the country on billboards, at bus stops and at the Piccadilly Lights in Piccadilly Circus to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

South Central Ambulance Service Paramedic Stuart Brookfield Credit: PA

One of the GPs photographed was London GP Farzana Hussain who told ITV News the experience was "life changing".

"It's fantastic to think that Rankin photographed the Queen, Kate Moss, and then me," Dr Hussain said.

"It was absolutely amazing. And what a tribute, not just to me, but to the hard work of all the GPs across the country.

"It's just breathtaking."

Hospital porter Ali Abdi, from Bristol, taken by Rankin Credit: PA

Rankin himself worked for the NHS as a theatre porter in twenties and said it was those memories that inspired him to "do something to be part of the solution" during lockdown.

To capture the pictures safely, he photographed his subjects from behind plastic sheeting, as well as using social distancing and cleaning procedures.

Rankin said it was a hugely emotional experience for him and there "were a couple of times where I almost cried".

He paid tribute to the key workers he photographed saying he had previously "not thought about them having to go home and deal with this trauma on their own".

NHS midwife, Claudia Anghel, from Coventry. Credit: PA

"Everyone had a different story and they were all so upbeat. They were all so positive and the one thing that really was the same with everybody was (saying) ‘I’m not a hero’, not one of them said: ‘I’m a hero’, the humility that they all shared was incredible.

"I was really inspired but there were a couple of meetings where I got a bit teary."

All portraits have been donated by Rankin to the NHS. The full selection of portraits and their stories can be found at www.england.nhs.uk/rankin.