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Bristol documentary photographer captures some of the faces behind COVID-19 research

The human stories behind Bristol scientists who are playing an important role in global efforts to overcome COVID-19 have been captured in a billboard campaign by a Bristol-based photographer.

The vaccine poster project is the brainchild of photographer - Tom Skipp - who wanted to portray through images some of the key people behind coronavirus research being carried out at the University of Bristol and includes UHBW staff Dr Rajeka Lazarus and honorary consultant professor Adam Finn.

Tom was concerned by what he felt was a distrust of science and an anecdotal feeling that minority populations might be dissuaded to take a vaccine given a historic prejudice by institutions. Tom also felt that the perception of the general public was that scientists aren’t like them and that they are usually only seen at lecterns next to government figures disseminating statistics that suggest the public could have their civil liberties cut.

The aim of Tom’s campaign is to connect science with the community and posters will be unveiled at five locations around Bristol today [Tuesday 27 April]. The posters will be on view to members of the public until Sunday 9 May 2021.

In the project, Tom wanted to understand the very human stories and motivations of some of the key scientists working in Bristol and relate those to the people of Bristol on a street level. 

Tom Skipp, talking about his project, said: “These photographs are all taken where the people have been carrying out their work over the last year, in university labs, hospitals and at home. They’ve all been experiencing the daily struggles and burdens put upon all of us by the pandemic with the added pressure of having the capabilities to do something about it.”

Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics at Bristol, Director of the Bristol Vaccine Centre at Bristol Medical School and lead of Bristol UNCOVER (Bristol COVID Emergency Research Group), added: “I was delighted to be asked to be part of this thought-provoking vaccine poster project.  Vaccination against COVID-19 protects you very effectively against serious illness and death from the disease. It also makes you less likely to infect other people you come into contact with if you are exposed to the virus.”

In the design of the posters, the coronavirus protein spike, the part essential to be able to vaccinate against the disease, is used as inspiration to create the colour field that sit behind the words of the scientists. 

Dr Rajeka Lazarus. Image credit: Tom Skipp