Eliza Hatch’s latest series focuses on the overlooked harassment routinely faced by key workers

During the pandemic, “when there was a particular focus on key workers and the pressures they were facing,” Eliza Hatch – the founder of Cheer Up Luv, a platform highlighting stories of sexual harassment across the UK, the US, Japan, Holland, Sri Lanka and Mexico – started hearing stories “of a different kind of pressure from the frontline.” Specifically, she received two story submissions of sexual harassment among key workers and so, she put out an open call to see if anyone else had similar stories to tell. “I was shocked when I received 100s of testimonies,” she recalls. This revelation stirred something inside Eliza, and she set out to create an extension of Cheer Up Luv titled #FrontlineHarassment, “a photo series focusing on the experiences routinely faced by key workers, that rarely take centre stage.”
The series was created while adhering to Covid-19 social distancing rules. It visually and conceptually follows the same pattern as Cheer Up Luv in the sense that every subject is photographed in the location (or a similar location) to where their story took place. Each portrait is also accompanied by a passage of text, but though Eliza is familiar with this format, shooting #FrontlineHarassment provided a host of new technical hurdles to jump. Surprisingly though, Eliza’s new limitations proved to be a good thing: “Although the quality of the image you get is not the same, I really like the freedom shooting on FaceTime gives you. You can photograph anyone regardless of their location, and I find it really exciting directing the person posing and the person holding (or positioning) the camera. It’s always really satisfying when it goes well!”
Being able to shoot each subject in a significant location means the series continues the poignancy begun by Cheer Up Luv. When viewing each portrait, we are transported into the story and are forced to recognise the person telling it. Eliza made the decision to photograph each participant in their uniform, highlighting how their harassment took place while they were simply trying to go about their day-to-day work. Each is then depicted in a powerful manner, looking straight at the viewer, often shot from below. “I wanted to use the surroundings as a stage for the participants to speak out on, and portray their strength, resilience and empowerment by taking back control of the situation, looking directly down the lens of the camera, challenging you,” Eliza explains.

Posted by Contributor