Rosem Morton

6x6 North and Central America Talent: Rosem Morton, United States/The Philippines

“Rosem Morton’s pictures are autobiographical in nature. [...] Her crafty and sensitive visual storytelling approach makes her work very powerful. I believe these important stories need to be part of a large platform and prompt meaningful conversations that help positive changes.” - Jashim Salam, Bangladesh, photographer, photo editor, educator, and 6x6 nominator.

Rosem Morton is a documentary photographer and nurse based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. She is a National Geographic Explorer producing visual stories that focus on the intersection of health, trauma, and resilience.

Wildflower

Wildflower is an autobiographical project reflecting the first year journey of the photographer’s struggle with trauma after surviving a sexual assault.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. One out of six American women and one out of 33 American men have been victims of rape. “Rape is not just an assault of the mind and body, but also of the voice. Our current culture of victim-blaming and shaming has bred systems and institutions that not only permit the cycle of sexual violence but also allow for the silencing of victims. We are constantly told that if there is no proof, it did not happen. If the proof is not good enough, there is no story.

Silenced by trauma, I found my voice through photography. Through this medium, I discovered the value of my story. For the first time in a long time, I felt seen and heard. In this process, the victim became a survivor. I became a wildflower who continues to bloom and thrive,” said Morton.
“In October 2018, I received a phone call from my assaulter. It was not an admission of fault or an apology, it was a phone call to tell me how he felt his actions were justified. The phone call was so devastating that I crashed my car into the garage and broke my side mirror. I looked at myself in broken pieces.” - Rosem Morton. Baltimore, United States, 9 October 2018.
“I always admired wildflowers for their abilities to bloom and thrive. I am a survivor, a wildflower.” - Rosem Morton. Baltimore, United States, 11 November 2018.
“On a torn piece of paper, I wrote down the details of my assault. For my husband, when you are ready.” - Rosem Morton. Baltimore, United States, 9 October 2018.
“Maia and Akira follow me wherever I go, urging me on.” - Rosem Morton. Baltimore, United States, 9 October 2018.

Donning and Doffing

Donning and Doffing is a personal project about the difficult conditions that health workers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. A nurse herself, the photographer has been chronicling her experience being in close contact with the virus every day with a limited supply of personal protective equipment, while trying to keep track of changing protocols and working conditions.

“On my days off, my husband, a nurse at a different hospital, and I try to relax and enjoy our time together, even if the mental and emotional toll of the crisis lingers around us. It is my hope for the public to understand the intimate lives of healthcare providers as we continue to take care of patients while the novelty of the pandemic wears off and the crisis becomes normalized,” says Morton.
Rosem Morton writes her name on her PAPR hood (powered air purifying respirator). Morton has to wipe and reuse this personal protective equipment for the duration of the pandemic. She is only really protected as long as there are machines available for the hoods. These machines are carefully logged so staff can always account for each one. Baltimore, United States, 24 March 2020.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, our operating rooms only perform urgent cases. It is even more slowed down by the availability of personal protective equipment.” - Rosem Morton. Baltimore, United States, 26 March 2020.
Rosem and Ian Morton, wife and husband, are both nurses. They decompress during their days off by laying quietly on their phones. Their high risk jobs remind both of them to enjoy each other’s company as often as they can even if they both need some space. Baltimore, United States, 20 April 2020.
Rosem Morton greets her husband, Ian, after working at the hospital. He finished four hours after his intended nursing shift. Baltimore, United States, 1 May 2020.