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.
Alice, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
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 twelveyear 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.
Angela, Imogen and Miranda, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
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.
Ann, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Bethan, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Chloe, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Father Kevin, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Finn and Max, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Hannah and Annebella, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Jamal, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
is a world-wide acclaimed and exhibited fine-art photographer. She has had portraits commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, that are held in permanent collection. She is a winner of the HSBC Fondation pour la Photographie award and a Hasselblad Master. Her images are on the front covers of 'A Guide to Collecting Contemporary Photography' (Thames and Hudson, 2012) and Eyemazing Magazine. She is widely sought after as a judge for adjudicating at prestigious international photographic competitions and as a speaker at international events.
The foundation of her success as a fine-art photographer was 'Teenage Stories' (2005), an evocative narrative of the transition of a teenage girl to womanhood. It portrays the different stages and life situations experienced by an adolescent girl as she grapples with the vulnerability of her teenage predicament – adjustments to a new body, her emotional development and changes in her social standing. Her book ‘Teenage Stories’ was published in 2007. This success was followed by other projects illuminating further stages a teenager experiences to becoming a woman - In Between (2009) and Awkward (2011). Julia freely admits to many of her scenes being autobiographical. This was even more so the case with her next project, Mothers and Daughters (2012). Here she based the project on her own experiences in her relationship with her mother, and the effects of her parents’ divorce. Unrequited love – A Testament to Love (2013) – completes Julia’s involvement with the female psyche, illustrating poignantly the struggles experienced by a woman when love goes wrong. Again there is no happy end, the woman is left with the despair of loneliness, loss and resignation.
More recently, Julia has shot a series of projects where she has engaged with social issues. Unadorned (2012) takes on the issue of the modern Western society’s over-emphasis on the perfect figure, both female and male. For this project she sourced overweight models and asked them to pose in the nude in front of her camera against a backdrop similar to that of an Old Master’s painting, when voluptuousness was more accepted than it is now. ‘Blind (2013)’ confronts the viewer with a series of sympathetic images and interviews with blind people, some blind from birth, others following illness or an accident. Sight being one of mankind’s essential senses and her career being absolutely dependent on it, Julia hoped to find answers to her own personal situation if she were ever to become blind. Her most recent project, In Service (2014), exposes some of the goings-on behind the walls of the homes of the wealthy during the Edwardian era in the UK (1901 – 1911). Millions of poorer members of society escaped poverty by becoming servants in these homes, where it was not only hard work, but they were often subjected to exploitation and abuse.
Julia’s very distinctive style of fine-art photography is epitomized by her use of unusual locations, highly creative settings, street-cast models, and accented with cinematic lighting. She insinuates visual tensions into her images, and imbues them with a hint of mystery, that combine to tease the viewer to re-examine the picture continuously, each time seeing more content and finding a deeper meaning with every viewing.
Major events in which she has recently participated include Fotografiska, Stockholm; Noorderlicht, International Festival of Photography, Kristiansund, Norway; Dong Gang Photo festival, Korea; Daegu Photo Biennale, Korea; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Fundacion Caja, Madrid; Pompidou Center, Paris; Shanghai International Photographic Art Exhibition; Hereford Photo Festival; The Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (MOCA Shanghai).
Karen, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Kate, Jude and Belle, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Kevin Mcnally and Phyllis Logan, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Kitty, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Malaika, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Nora, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Otto, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Penelope, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Serena and Chloe, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Shem and Nora, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Skye, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten
Read the article: What impact has the Coronavirus Pandemic on Photographers?
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Tessa, Lockdown Day 2020 © Julia Fullerton-Batten