PENELOPE, Lockdown Day 51 - Covid 19 has been such a wake up call for the world and it can be a challenge not to be engulfed by fear but instead to look ahead in hope for the future. I try to limit the amount of news, yet keep informed and paradoxically, have connected more with others and deepened relationships even though I live alone. I am very grateful to live on the river where I do, surrounded by nature, wonderful neighbours and being more still, less rushing about, - has woken me up to the beauty of what is right here. It’s definitely a lesson how nothing can be taken for granted and how precious life is. Like for us all, its tough not seeing those you love but so many ways to connect in the meantime, thank you technology! I’m an actress, writer and freelance in the corporate sector so all are impacted but I have found many opportunities to work on various projects and keep connected with my employers and fantastic agent. © Julia Fullerton-Batten

Looking Out From Within, 2020

Julia Fullerton-Batten

 2020 — London, UK

About this series

Time stands still for most of us. It is a sensitive time, we all feel vulnerable and anxious. During the days prior to the pandemic I was ultra-busy planning a photographic shoot with a large team of people, assistants, stylists, hair and make-up team, prop stylists, set designers etc. and was in-line for a couple of jobs, suddenly everything stopped. The assignments were cancelled and I had to postpone my project two days before the shoot as the risk appeared too great.
I felt numb but I knew that I couldn’t stand around and do nothing, I decided to document today’s existence as lived now by many people. I chose to capture them in their lockdown isolation, effectively imprisoned behind the windows of their homes looking out onto a different desolate world. I advertised my idea via social media and the local press in my home area of West London. The response was enormous.
I even got responses from people living outside London expressing interest in taking part. For the past few weeks, every three days or so, I have photographed people in my area in self-isolation at home. People participate so enthusiastically that I feel I am giving them something to look forward to and break the monotony of their current existence.
Once somebody expresses interest to participate we make contact via email and phone to discuss details of the shoot and ideas for clothing as well as to fix a date and time for the set up. I shoot in the evening for the twilight feel, Thursdays are special as I can join with them in our clapping tribute to our precious NHS. I recce their home earlier in the day to get an idea of the setting, angles, etc. I restrict all journeys and times to stay within the Government guidelines. No physical contact is made. They stand at their windows and we communicate through the window with hand signals or by phone. Everything is discussed prior the shoot; the type of masks and wardrobe that can be anything from nightgowns to funky or formal dress worn especially for the photoshoot. My twelve- year old son Finn helps me carry the lighting. We set it up and a few poses later the shoot is over. I also interview each person I photograph in an informal way.
This might only be a mini-project but in my eyes a very important one for posterity. It is helping to keep me sane in these exceptional and disturbing times. At the same time, I find it extremely rewarding. I am enjoying meeting people who, without doubt, I would never ever have met before. They cover the entire spectrum of society and occupations which, in itself, has been a fascination to me. I am also re-learning how to take pictures in a simpler way without a large crew! I have not yet decided what to do with the resulting images but whatever it will be it will provide an intimate insight into the lives of all those who will have taken part during this macabre time. 

FINN AND MAX, Lockdown Day 37 - Max: Covid-19, Covid-19 My enemy You make me not see my friends I look around and I see people wearing masks You made this Are you happy? Or do you need to do more evil stuff ? Some people enjoy the lock down, but I don’t I study day by day as the population goes down I read as our world changes I go to high-five someone, but I can’t ! What have you done? People lying in the hospital beds Wondering what has happened to our world My family arguing as the time flies by All over the world this is happening I guess I need to face the fact that this is our life for now But Covid-19, I will get REVENGE!!! © Julia Fullerton-Batten
SHEM AND NORA, Lockdown Day 111- Shem: I believe that this whole pandemic has affected me in a big way as my GCSE exams were cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid 19. This was a major upset as I started to question what my five years of learning was for but hopefully the government will help me and everyone else around me move on from this, Additionally losing family friends to COVID 19 was a big shock to the whole family. If I have taken anything away from this whole pandemic it’s that taking care of ourselves and staying healthy is very important as we need to protect ourselves and the people around us. I live with my family which is my brother, sister, mum and dad. The people I miss the most is all of my friends at school. Even though I see some of them from time to time it will probably be unlikely that my whole year group will be able to see each other that much. Nora: Covid-19 has affected me so badly because that wasn’t what I was expecting in this summer. I miss my friends in school. I and my family were all planning to go on holiday to Spain for our first time but everything as now being cancelled. I will say that it has been very boring at home. Covid 19 has taught me to keep my hygiene levels up and wash my hands all the time. I live with my Mum, Dad and two brothers. So yes it is kind of a full house. I definitely miss going to school and attending church because it is very boring at home. Well I’m currently feeling really bored and I want to go somewhere really going to my friends’ house, eating out , etc © Julia Fullerton-Batten
ANN, Lockdown Day 74 - We have probably been less seriously affected by the virus than many other people: we are retired, live on our own in a fairly spacious house with a garden, and we have access to good local shops and pleasant riverside walks. Moreover, we are retired academics so we can continue with various aspects of our working lives even under quarantine: we can read, write, and take part, online and by email, in research projects and publishing projects. We were never fans of the current government, but their handling of this crisis has taught us not to trust them or their advisers, even their medical advisers. On the other hand we have learned that most of our neighbours (including some we had not met before) are sensible and willing to be helpful. The Thursday clapping ritual has been as important for fostering community spirit as for appreciating essential workers. We miss friends and social contacts of course, and travel, both national and international. We miss theatres, cinemas, restaurants and pubs. While acknowledging that we are in a better position than many, we are naturally anxious about the outcome, both for ourselves (we are over 70) and for others. We want to be able to look back on this very strange time but no-one knows when it will end. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
SERENA AND CHLOE, Lockdown Day 16 How has Covid-19 affected you? The biggest impact Covid 19 has had on me is through my work. As a photographer in the early stages of my career, I’ve gone from such a fast paced work life to one that’s been completely shut down. What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far? It’s allowed me to relearn the importance of giving myself time to rest and reflect. Who do you live with? My mum and my younger sister What do you miss the most? Definitely the social side of things, I really took hanging out with my friends for granted. I’ve also had to miss out on travelling for work and holidays during this time which has been a real shame. Tell me a bit about your current situation My main priority is keeping myself and everyone around me safe. Staying indoors is a small sacrifice to make for the safety of others, so my main aim is to find new ways of using this time positively and taking care of my mental health. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
JAMAL, Lockdown Day 22 - How has Covid-19 affected you and your life? I am Jamal, I am Autistic, I live with my Mum and my cat Romeo, I cannot go to Sports Club or Mencap, I miss my Carers Aaron and Lolo, I might see them in May or maybe June I’m not sure. We’re taking virtual yoga sessions, dance classes, even partying online. Theatre is being streamed online - the ‘live ness’ has been taken out of the ‘live’. The future is online and we are living it.” © Julia Fullerton-Batten
KITTY, Lockdown Day 92 - My take on this Covid situation is probably like most people’s... Except that I get regular depressing letters from the Department of Health and Social Security reminding me that ‘I am indentified as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and am at risk of severe illness if I catch the virus’. Of course this is exacerbated by my age as well. However, I never felt fitter or more energetic and take daily walks just to see some life and people in the area. I live alone but have the support of a daughter and a son and his family who live not far away, which is a great comfort. What I miss most is the freedom and ability to be able to hop on a bus or tube train and go to the British Museum or the National Gallery for instance and then meet friends for a catch up or trip to the cinema. Not to mention holidays - which seem in the distant past! Who knows when life will return to anything like normal. I think I have learnt to take each day as it comes and to be less demanding about what I think I need or want to do. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR AND RICHARD JONES, Lockdown Day 53 - How has Covid 19 affected you? Covid 19 has affected me many ways but I suppose the most stark is the work. Turns out Richard and I didn’t choose very practical day jobs when there’s a lockdown and you’re not allowed near other people. I miss gigs and at the moment have no work in sight for 2020. As for what it’s taught me, I think the true answer might be a while in the making but at the same time, the core things of what we value here.. what makes us laugh, what makes us sad, they are all the same. I don’t know that I needed a pandemic to know that I love my ‘normal’ life and being able to see my family and friends. Richard and I are in lockdown with our 5 kids and it’s as peaceful as you’d imagine. We also have our au pair here who ended up stranded after she got unwell and the flights were cancelled. Jelena has been amazing, but I’m very conscious of giving her her own space and a break from us. There’s no let up for the rest of us. It’s not been easy and there’s been many tears and tantrums but it’s not been terrible either. Same for most families I’d imagine. It’s hard to put into words what i miss. I’ve thought about it a lot.. it’s not the tangible although of course sunday lunches with loved ones, singing with my band in front of a crowd and making plans have been things I’ve pined for.. I think what I miss most is the usually casual nature of my life. Watching my kids running about outside without worrying they are too close to others, choosing which days I’m free to grab a coffee with someone, making a plan for a date night.. I miss not having to second guess everything and I miss not worrying I’ve stood too close to my mum when I’ve waved at her from the path outside her front door. Our current situation has been a bit barking. The last two and a half months have been a heady mix of domesticity and discos. We’ve broadcast a little disco party from our home every Friday at 6.30 and even though it’s the maddest thing I’ve ever done (kids and wires everywhere), it’s also kept richard and I sane. He focuses on the technical side and does the filming and sound while I put on my sequins and sing. The kids dance and it gives us all a lift. It’s been special and has made the heaviness of the world’s reality a little easier to bear. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
OTTO, Lockdown Day 82 - Covid 19 has affected me seeing friends, my schoolwork and fun activities. It’s taught me that everyone needs to stay more hygienic. My sister, my mum and my dad and two cats I miss sport, activities and friends the most. It’s very interesting because it is turning everything into one big puzzle because of how much things have changed and how differently things could have been if this virus hadn’t arrived from China. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
BETHAN, Lockdown Day 43 - How has Covid 19 affected you? The biggest impact that Covid 19 has had on my life is that I will be going into work a lot earlier than expected. I am in my final of medical school and sat my final exams in January, expecting to graduate in July. Instead, my year have been graduated early and I am starting work as a doctor in a London hospital this week. What lesson has Covid 19 taught you so far? The biggest lesson I will take away from this pandemic is that going out and seeing my friends is what makes me happy. In the future, I will not be turning down a beer garden opportunity ever again! Who do you live with? I am currently living with my mum and my two younger sisters -we all have the same dark sense of humour and taste in television, so it’s worked well thus far. Our golden retriever Suki is probably going to have separation anxiety when this is over. What do you miss the most? It has been strange not being able to see my boyfriend, who is working as a doctor in Oxford. I can’t imagine what quarantine would be like before mobile phones and the internet - I think that has been a saving grace for so many. Tell me a bit about your current situation Overall, living through this pandemic has made me recognise how often I take for granted things which others are struggling without, especially at the moment. l am so privileged to have things such as my health, job security, family and access to a garden. I think it’s easy to forget that sometimes. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
ZEWDI, YABSRA AND EHIOPIA, Lockdown Day 57 - Zewdi’s words: Covid 19 has affected me in many ways that I can’t clearly explain, but I am sure everyone is feeling similarly as we are all in it. There’s nothing similar that we have experienced in our lifetime. It has changed everyone’s routines and the ways we do things. I am a bit worried about the children’s education because we are not doing anything near what they would have been doing at their school with their teachers. I live with my husband, two children and a lodger. I miss going to church every Sunday and travelling freely. I believe in God and worship Him. I believe He is almighty, and all He wants from us is to be good to one another and to His creation. I believe God has His reasoning for everything, but I can’t tell you why He allows suffering and who He picks or how etc... This must be why they say ‘God works in His mysterious ways.’ I don’t know if I can travel to Ethiopia this Summer. At the moment we’re all stationed at home, except for my husband, who has to go to work as a bus driver.© Julia Fullerton-Batten
SKYE, Lockdown Day 110 - Thinking about the past during Covid 19 has been something very prevelant to me. Dwelling on past mistakes and past moments. Although living with my dad, mum and my brother has taught me what is really important. The terrifying yet very real thought I could lose them at any moment led me to appreciate every moment with them more. Me and my brother didn’t spend much time together before and this turned to bike rides and long endless walks. We confided in each other in a time that seemed so bleak and hopeless, if Covid 19 has taught me anything, it is that life doesn;t last forever and we should treat each moment as if it were our last. © Julia Fullerton-Batten

Photographer: Julia Fullerton-Batten
Nationality: English – German
Based in: London, UK
Instagram: @julia_fullertonbatten

Hyper-realism and cinematic are characteristic descriptions of Julia Fullerton- Batten’s images. They are often set in unexpectedly surreal settings with dramatic lighting, communicating simultaneously both tension and mystery. Since becoming a professional photographer in 2005 she has accomplished 13 major projects Her first was Teenage Stories (2005), a semi-autobiographical narrative portraying the feelings of anxiety and discomfort experienced by a prepubescent girl as she transitions to womanhood. During the project she retroactively explored and connected with her own experiences. More recently, she has taken on socially conscious issues; among others, blindness, modern-day society’s pre-occupation with the ideal figure, women voluntarily engaging in the sex industry, etc
Fullerton-Batten was born in Bremen, Germany and spent most of her childhood
in Germany and the USA, before moving to the UK in 1986. After completing her education, she studied photography and assisted professional photographers for five years. She began her professional career with a commercial assignment in 2000 and within a few years began to gain accolades as a fine-art photographer. Early in her career, The National Portrait Gallery in London commissioned her to photograph portraits of sixteen leading people in the UK health service. After exhibiting them for six months they are now held there in permanent collection. Her fine-art work is globally renowned and exhibited. She has won countless awards worldwide, is frequently portrayed in photographic journals, has published two books, is a Hasselblad Ambassador and a frequent speaker at international workshops and a juror of international competitions. She lives in London and is married with two young boys.