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.
Photographer: Julia Fullerton-Batten
Nationality: English – German
Based in: London, UK
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.