AHS photographer documents pandemic in new book

May 13, 2022

CALGARY – An Alberta Health Services photojournalist has documented two years of the COVID-19 pandemic in a new book of black-and-white images.

Alone Together: A Pandemic Photo Essay, by Leah Hennel, illustrates how citizens, doctors, nurses, and patients in Alberta have adapted and found safe new ways to celebrate, socialize, and work during the global public health crisis.

Hennel, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world, has been capturing images from the front lines of the AHS COVID-19 response since the early days of the pandemic. Her photographs show how people have adapted and found safe new ways to celebrate special occasions and accomplishments. But they also show how Albertans have dealt with the tragedies, the deaths and the disabilities that the pandemic has brought.

“I’ve covered a lot in my career but never anything this heavy, this important,” says the award-winning photographer, who joined AHS in March 2019 — one year before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the province.

“Other stories I’ve followed have been brief – a day or two, maybe a week. I cover them, then move on to the next assignment. This one, though, has been unrelenting. Over the past two years, I’ve witnessed a lot of death and sadness, and a lot of grief. But I have also witnessed plenty of happy moments and got to experience first-hand the goodness in people.”

Throughout the pandemic, many of Hennel’s photos have been shared with the public, via the AHS website, as well as with AHS staff and physicians, and the media.

“None of us fully appreciated the lasting impact that COVID-19 would have on our healthcare system,” says Tanya Harvey, a registered nurse at Foothills Medical Centre who’s pictured in the book. “Leah’s images are honest, real and capture the shared experiences of patients, families and healthcare workers as we navigated — and continue to navigate — the unprecedented demands COVID-19 has placed on our system.”

The 240-page book is published by Rocky Mountain Books. It’s now on sale online and in bookstores, and available as an e-book. Proceeds from sales of Alone Together will go to health foundations that support the work of AHS.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.