• Top

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Adam and David (detail)

Photography

Photography: Julia Fullerton-Batten shoots the blind in this beautiful series

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

With each post that we write about Julia Fullerton-Batten her portfolio of work seems to have grown to accommodate the latest of her brilliant projects, and in what seems to be a never-ending string of stunning concepts her latest series Blind is perhaps the most challenging of all. Photographing a series of blind models against their choice of background, the photographer challenges the limitations of a medium which relies on vision, and causes the viewer to question their own notion of normality.

Fresh from celebrating her nomination for the Taylor Wessing photography prize, we caught up with the photographer to find out what she learned from shooting the Blind series, and the research which went into it…

  • Adam

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Adam

What made you decide to make the Blind series?

From the time I wake up in the morning until my eyes close in sleep, my life is full of light and visual images. I see what is going on around me, I can watch my children grow, judge the personality and moods of people whom I meet, I can drive a car and above all, my sight is essential for my career as a photographer. How different my life would be if I was surrounded by dark, blurred scenes of mottled grey and colours. Sight is one of mankind’s five senses. What is it like to be blind, fully or partially? Is it worse to be blind from birth, or to be robbed of one’s sight later in life through illness or accident? What’s more, my father-in-law is going more and more blind each time I visit him. I am conscious how much his focus is changing; he used to look at me, but now he practically sees through me.

How did you relate to your models?

I met each of my models on several occasions before the shoot to hear their stories. It was interesting visiting them in their homes. They would let me in, and the room would be very dark, but they would be aware to switch the light on for me. They were all very welcoming, and when I interviewed them they were very open.

How did you go about selecting the backgrounds for the photographs?

I had already decided to rise to the challenge of portraying my blind models by asking them to choose a background against which they would like their portrait to be positioned. Later they “wrote” their stories in their own words using speech recognition software and Braille keys on their computer keyboard, and explained their choice of background. For example, Richard rides a tandem through the countryside close to Farnham, Surrey, and Diane rides a horse in Cornwall, whereas brothers Adam and David represented Great Britain at Goalball in the 2012 Paralympics, and Maryam has decided to move to live in New York.

How do you feel about the series, and the people you shot for it, when you look at it now?

Relating to my models was a very humbling experience – their stories weighed me down with sorrow at their misfortune – but, at the same time it was a profoundly uplifting one. Without exception, my models are shining examples of how to continue living with joy and energy even under very difficult circumstances.

One thing I realised is that there are many degrees of blindness, and each person is different. And that although they can’t see, their senses of touch, sound and smell are heightened in some form of compensation. I can only admire the courage and fortitude of my blind friends at how they handle their lives in such a positive way.

Has making this series changed the way you go about taking photographs?

Life is precious, and we should all make the most of it. I meet so many photographers who lose their confidence to believe in themselves or their ideas. They end up doing nothing. We all need to make the most of what has been given to us.

  • Alan

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Alan

  • Diane

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Diane

  • Georgina

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Georgina

  • Joy

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Joy

  • Louie

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Louie

  • Maryam

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Maryam

  • Nala

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Nala

  • Adam-and-david

    Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blind, Adam and David

Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. List-kurt

    Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is easily one of the most mythologised, eulogised and conspiracy-theorised musicians of the last century. Whether we consider his sad induction into the 27-club, his tumultuous relationship with Malaysia Airlines mystery-solving wallflower Courtney Love or the various mental and physical ailments that manifested themselves so intensely through his songs, Kurt’s was a life destined for scrutiny.

  2. List

    To say that Rebecca Reeve enjoys a magnificent view is not to do her work justice. The British-born, New York-based photographer has long been occupied with framing landscapes with domestic devices in her work, from placing a pair of translucent curtains around a mountain range and invoking the Dutch custom of covering paintings at the wakes of deceased family members to help them make the transition to the afterlife, to hanging a blind in front of a swamp to oddly effective ends. On an aesthetic level this unusual use of the prop partially obscures her chosen view, bringing a curious sense of mystery to the image, but the subversion of that familiar sense of domesticity resonates much further than surface level, creating an odd feeling of displacement with a surrealist slant.

  3. List

    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.

  4. Main1

    Every once in a while it’s worth having a good old stare at the architecture around us. Often we simply stop noticing buildings because they’re so good at doing what they’re supposed to do; which is a shame because as well as functionality, there’s an overlooked beauty within those structures we can all appreciate.

  5. List

    If you ask me, the beauty of Maciek Pozoga’s work lies in the fact that it can’t be pinned down. He’s eternally “juggling between documentary, art and fashion,” as his website explains, resulting in a style which grows “from a specific conception of documentary images, naturalistic and authentic but tinged with poetry and humour.”

  6. Main

    I’m super into these portraits by Maya Fuhr, I think I spent about 45 seconds staring into the pond-coloured eyes of the guy two pics down. Maya’s got this magic touch when it comes to photography, her work is so simultaneously humble and powerful, making her the perfect candidate for quietly strong editorial and personal work. We’ve covered her editorial before – a brilliant photo shoot of girls in messy bedrooms – but something about the power of her portraits made us want to write about her again. She also recently opened up to us about her days as college a fresher, and the perils of choosing the wrong degree (with some brilliant photographs of her in 2008 to accompany it, naturally).

  7. List

    In December last year we received a zine in the post from Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn that documented a small selection of images he’d gathered in Ukraine. Kalush offered a unique perspective on a region that was thrust suddenly and violently into the public consciousness, showing us the quiet, everyday side of a place that – from television coverage at least – you’d have been forgiven for assuming was razed to the ground.

  8. Main_15.08.13

    Another one pilfered off Haw-Lin here I’m afraid, (I can’t help it if their taste is better than everyone else’s can I?). This charming selection of photographs of aesthetically-blessed chaps hanging out with pedigree dogs is by Philippe Jarrigeon, the man who once charmed us with square oranges back in the day. This shoot was commissioned by the spectacular Double Magazine, and is testament to why they’re currently on their 27th issue – they clearly know what they’re doing content-wise. If you think cute boys and pups are click-bait then I’d be inclined to disagree – the world needs happy photography, and you don’t get much more joy in an editorial than this. Like what you see? Let me point you this way to another fantastic shoot with a similar concept from 2012.

  9. List

    Unless you have self-consciously wacky parents, it’s likely you’ll have met someone with the same name first name as you. When you’re younger this can make you feel a less special but these days we just have to grin and bear it. The commonality of first names is a theme Tim Morris has focused on in his George series, which brilliantly catalogues famous Georges in visual form.

  10. .jpg?1413390909

    All too often these days we stumble across a jaw-dropping example of set design, only to discover the impressive final image is actually the result of some clever visual trickery and digital manipulation. That’s an impressive art unto itself, don’t get me wrong, but pure CGI can leave me feeling a little shortchanged.

  11. List

    The Daily Nice is one of those online phenomenons that’s been sizzling away in the big internet frying pan since 2004, and this month sees it celebrate its tenth birthday. If you’re not familiar with site (where have you been??), the idea is simple: every day its creator Jason Evans uploads one photograph of something that made him happy. There’s no archive, no social media feeds – just that picture taken by Jason on the site for 24 hours.

  12. Main

    Anyone who’s worked for Ryan McGinley is probably covered in a lil’ pinch of magic dust when it comes to photography. Eric Chakeen proves this point – his personal and commissioned shots are a wild mix of humour and professionalism that is hard to come by. Working in New York, Eric’s skill lies in his ability to roam the streets and take portraits of people with true personality. From a guy munching on a cigar on a scooter to a dog in a post-vet neck cone, anything he turns his lens on turns to gold. You could argue that it doesn’t take much to get a good shot of Alexa Chung, but would many people choose to photograph her in such a stripped-back way? I think not. How great to see someone doing something that so many people are experimenting with right now, but adding that extra bit of style and wit. Cool guy.

  13. List

    I’ve had a soft spot for Akos Major’s photography for a long time now and his project Waters has been added to my virtual ‘like’ pile with no hesitation.