Infection Warriors

Heroes – not fools – rush in
where angels fear to tread

Photographer Jo Müller captures the dramatic battle taking place right now in hospitals all over the world

Meet: Johannes Müller

At his day job, he’s the Vice President of Corporate Communication at BSH (Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte), but in his free time he is a conflict and war photographer. When his family history and personal experience drew him closer to the medical sector, Johannes Müller discovered another calling: Preserving the war-like scenes in hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jo Müller is used to going where it hurts. He regularly photographs the frontlines of Afghanistan, Mali, and Iraq, where he voluntarily spends his ‘vacations.’ When he chose to document the battles healthcare professionals face every day, he was not only inspired by the parallels he saw between the two fields — it was also a matter of highest personal interest for him. His grandmother worked as a nurse, his mother as a doctor, and he has already been hospitalized countless times in his life. For this project, he spent several days at a hospital and captured the efforts of the “infection warriors.”
healthcare professional

„Empathy is what keeps the global community together. With my pictures, I try to make a small contribution.”

Although Jo Müller is often referred to as a “hobby war photographer”, conflict and war photography are anything but a pastime for him. It is a mission he is deeply invested in — financially, personally, as well as emotionally: “The more extreme the circumstances, the more interesting the people are who are fighting for the greater good despite it all. Most of them are so focused on their goals, they don’t have the time to get the public attention they deserve. You can’t praise them enough.” With his photos, Jo Müller wants to give these heroes a stage – and the crisis a hopeful face. He hopes to inspire others to act with respect, empathy, and humanity.

hospital room

“What touched me most were the little gestures. When someone passes away, the nurses will open the window so the patient’s soul can fly away.” 

While shadowing healthcare staff during his photography project, Jo Müller’s understanding of them and their work changed completely. He was familiar with the patient’s perspective: you’re bedridden and every couple of hours a nurse or doctor checks in on you. He admits this was a pretty frustrating situation to be in. But as he continued to follow the healthcare workers, his admiration and respect grew at every turn. “At the end of a very long shift, they are exhausted. The masks injure their faces, they have walked miles, and they haven’t had a single quiet moment in hours. But you won’t hear them complain once. The work they are doing, mentally as well as physically, cannot be overestimated.”

Traces of hope – not just at war, but also at hospitals
Nurse with face mask on smiling into camera

“Working at a hospital is very similar to working at a battlefront.”

Nurses and soldiers are what Jo Müller calls “unsung heroes” - men and women who dedicate their lives to society, far from the limelight. There are few who publicly celebrate them, but they are not in it for the public praise anyway. Their fight is in the background – not for fame, or money, but for what they believe in. The main difference between the two groups may be the way they wage war: healthcare workers’ M.O. is exclusively focused on preserving lives. And while soldiers’ wars eventually end, healthcare professionals’ battle never will.

Nurse in dark hospital room filling out files next to patient’s bed

“Suddenly everyone’s clapping and cheering on social media, but what we need is a huge change.”

Jo Müller has always been very aware of the difficulties and injustices nursing staff struggle with every day, not just during times of Covid-19. They’re underpaid, underestimated, and far too often have to take the brunt of patients’ frustration. While Jo welcomes the recent wave of gratitude, he knows that it will take a lot more to properly recognize the healthcare professionals for whom he has such deep respect and admiration. Clapping and likes on social media will not replace the long overdue changes to ensure adequate working conditions for this group of people who are part of the bedrock of our communities.

„We are always quick to fuss over trivialities when we’re hospitalized – what we tend to forget is that without these hard-working people, everything would break apart.”

This might interest you as well