As It Happens

Vancouver doctor's portraits show the 'two different lives' of health-care workers

A Vancouver doctor is literally showing the other side of his colleagues by splicing together pictures of them at work and in their personal lives.

Dr. Cyrus McEachern splices photos of his colleagues at work with images from their personal lives

Dr. Henrik Huttunen is shown at work and out in the snow. (Cyrus McEachern)

A Vancouver doctor is showing the other side of his colleagues — literally. 

Inspired by the work of a Turkish photographer, Dr. Cyrus McEachern, a Vancouver General Hospital anesthesiologist, has taken portraits of his co-workers on the job and spliced them together with pictures from their personal lives.

"It's the same person in two different environments, the meeting of these two different lives," McEachern told As It Happens host Carol Off.

The first portrait McEachern took was of Dr. Andrea Brovender, shown holding medical supplies and her son. He said she often thinks about the effects her work has on her family. 

Dr. Andrea Brovender is shown holding at work and holding her son at home in a portrait by her colleague Dr. Cyrus McEachern. (Cyrus McEachern)

Doctors and other health-care workers are at the front lines of keeping people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many report feeling increased stress and anxiety

In Canada, there were over 53,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to data tracked by CBC News. More than 3,200 people have died. 

"The first few weeks of COVID arriving at our hospital, Vancouver General, I personally was quite stressed, as were many of my colleagues, and we were finding that it had permeated into our personal lives," McEachern said.

McEachern follows photographer Uğur ​​​​​​Gallenkuş on Instagram and was drawn to his side-by-side comparisons of people in different places and economic situations.

For example, one image shows children waiting for a school bus alongside an image of others lined up to fill containers of water. 

"Although it's a pretty straightforward dichotomous comparison, I do find them quite powerful, and I thought I could do the same with portraits of my colleagues," McEachern said. 

His photos show his coworkers spending time with their families, boating, surfing, doing yoga and dancing, among other things.

"It's hard for me to speak for all of my colleagues, but people have found it, I think, validating in terms of kind of expressing the burden they carry home with them when they leave work," he said. 

He said it's also been a refreshing reminder of "just how beautiful our lives are when we're not stressed to the max with this global pandemic."

McEachern's own portrait spoofs the popular Netflix documentary series Tiger King, which tells the story of eccentric zoo operator Joe Exotic, who is currently in federal prison for animal abuse and a murder for hire plot. 

In his self-portrait, McEachern dresses like Exotic and poses with his cat.

Dr. Cyrus McEachern is shown at work and holding his cat in an homage to the Tiger Kind documentary series. (Cyrus McEachern)

"I'm not married. I don't have kids. My cat and I spend a lot of time together over the last 10 years," McEachern said. 

"It sounds silly to praise him so much, but he has been a source of comfort in these stressful times."


Written by Justin Chandler. Interview produced by Katie Geleff.

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