CAPTURING THE COMPLEXITIES OF LIFE: INTERVIEW WITH PHOTOGRAPHER, JULIA FULLERTON-BATTEN

Share


1. Where are you from, where do you live and what kind of person are you ?

I was born in Bremen, Germany, second daughter to my German mother and British father. When I was just two years old, we moved to the USA. We stayed there for seven years, which meant that I started my education there and adapted to the American way of life. This was followed by a move back to Germany – new schools, new culture, totally different way of life. We were four siblings, three girls and our younger brother. This period of change ended with my parent’s divorce while we were still relatively young. I was sixteen at the time and moved with my father to the UK, where I have lived ever since. I am now married and have two gorgeous sons. We live in a suburb of London. After studying photography and being a freelance assistant to professional photographers for five years, I started my career as a professional photographer in my own right in 1995. I am passionate about photography, hard working and creative.

art jobs

2. Do you think a talent for photography is something a person is born with ?

That’s an interesting question and, to be honest, I don’t really know. But doesn’t the word ‘talent’ imply an ability that one is born with? Self-taught to a professional standard means that somebody works to develop their skills and hones them to the equivalent level of a talented photographer. Is that possible? I guess we would have to carry out a historical review of past and present major photographers to determine whether the skill was inherent in their nature or developed with practice.

art jobs

3. All of your Fine Art stories touch on very deep and, occasionally dark, subject matters. Is there a solid link between each of them as a whole ?

My fine art projects from ‘Teenage Stories’ up to and including ‘A Testament to Love’ are semi-autobiographical in nature. Up until my parent’s divorce, my life was happy and relatively untroubled. The scenes in them relate to the fairly normal experiences of pre-pubescent teens and teenagers in general. ‘Mothers and Daughters’ is a reflection of my and my sister’s relationship with our mother, as well as hers with her mother. When a female viewer sees these images, I think these are episodes to which they can relate to, to one degree or another. Beginning with ‘Blind’, I changed theme to a social commentary on the aspirations, social prejudices (‘Unadorned’) and with ‘In Service’, the sexual mistreatment of female and male servants during the Edwardian period in the UK. This is where the darker subject matter begins to come through with gradually increasing intensity. The depth and darkness of the subject matter reaches a peak with my latest two projects  - ‘Feral Children’ and ‘The Act’.

art jobs

" The scenes in them relate to the fairly normal experiences of pre-pubescent teens and teenagers in general. ‘Mothers and Daughters’ is a reflection of my and my sister’s relationship with our mother, as well as hers with her mother. When a female viewer sees these images, I think these are episodes to which they can relate to, to one degree or another. "

 

4. Which of the series do you consider the most powerful and why ?

I’m happy with all my projects, but ‘Feral Children’ is a subject matter that was very emotional for me as each of the cases were so tragic, especially the story of Genie. Her father bound her as a toddler to a child’s chair in a poorly ventilated, unheated primitive basement room for ten years of her life. The scope of my latest project ‘The Act’ was mammoth. It involved photographing and interviewing 15 women engaged in the sex industry in the UK. The photographs were of the women performing their acts and portraits. I interviewed them to determine their reasons for their choice of ‘career’ and how they felt being engaged in it. The interviews were subsequently made into a video.

art jobs

" The scope of my latest project ‘The Act’ was mammoth. It involved photographing and interviewing 15 women engaged in the sex industry in the UK. The photographs were of the women performing their acts and portraits. I interviewed them to determine their reasons for their choice of ‘career’ and how they felt being engaged in it."

 

5. What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing what you do ?

The most challenging and most rewarding thing is to develop the original idea for a project. This I will turn over in my mind, do online research to improve my background knowledge, play with various scenarios in my mind, always padding the idea out more and more. I let my creativity run wild until the whole thing crystallises and I can start the next phase of finding locations, think of set designs, start choosing models, find props, clothing, etc. On the day of the shoot, I have everything established in my mind, my assistants move the equipment around until I get the lighting I want, I press the shutter of my Hasselblad and we can view the shot on my tethered laptop. But, that is the easy part of the whole procedure once I have concluded that creative process – the most challenging and most exciting thing of the whole project.

art jobs

" The most challenging and most rewarding thing is to develop the original idea for a project. This I will turn over in my mind, do online research to improve my background knowledge, play with various scenarios in my mind, always padding the idea out more and more."

 

6. What tools do you use post processing ?

I personally don’t do anything but the most basic retouching using PhotoShop.  I subcontract the major retouching to a professional, who does it under my supervision. I tend not to use too much retouching.  A lot of the feeling and mood in the images is from the way they are lit.

art jobs

7. What image is your personal favourite and why ?

I have no single favourite image. As I finish a project I get a new favourite. Therefore my current favourites are to be found among those in my ‘Feral Children’ project; specifically the fore-mentioned image of Genie springs repeatedly into my mind. It is significant because of the background story. It is unbelievable for me that a father could effectively torture his daughter for over a decade in that way, by confining her to a child’s chair in a confined space with few playthings and a totally unsuitable diet. It is a relatively simple image of a girl tied to a child’s stool in a simple monochrome painted room with a bare bulb and a high curtained window providing light, no other decoration but a few cotton reels as her playthings. But, if you read her story it is a heart-wrenching image.

art jobs

8. Do you have any projects you are currently working on or any upcoming exhibitions you want to tell us about ?

I’m just completing ‘The Act’, which is my very latest project. I’m just releasing images and a video, as well as entering these into competitions. This is probably the most comprehensive project I have ever done, as it involved set design as well as all the other aspects of one of my photo shoots, including finding and interviewing real sex workers, lighting, etc. and working together with others on the video. Each project becomes more and more rewarding. I am brewing on a new idea….

JULIA FULLERTON-BATTEN
AOP

art jobs

Like 2 

Add new comment

 

ART WEEK
Discover The Best Art Online