The coronavirus pandemic has made us press pause.
Businesses closed, workers were furloughed, queues for shops distanced and lengthened, and we all had to slow down.
Capturing the strange stillness of this moment is photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, whose photo series, Looking Out From Within, documents people’s experiences in lockdown.
Over the last few weeks, Julia has ventured to people’s homes to take their portraits through their windows, with no physical contact made.
After planning the photoshoot, Julia makes the short journey over and her subjects communicate through the window by hand signal or phone, as Julia and her twelve-year-old son Finn set up the lighting and camera.
‘People participate so enthusiastically that I feel I am giving them something to look forward to and break the monotony of their current existence,’ Julia says.
‘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 restrict all journeys and times to stay within the Government guidelines. No physical contact is made.’
Julia launched the project out of a need to document this strange moment in time.
‘I felt numb but I knew that I couldn’t stand around and do nothing,’ she explains.
‘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
‘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.
‘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.’
‘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.’
Kevin McNally and Phyllis Logan
‘Like most people Covid-19 has impacted our lives but we remember to be grateful that unlike many we have space here in our house, which we share with our 23 year old son David.
‘We can also do some voice work from a little recording set up I put in the study. I guess the biggest take away from all this is how important human contact is and when it’s restricted it really changes the quality of one’s day to day life.’
‘I haven’t been able to see my friends and some of my family. For example, over the Easter holiday, my family and I were supposed to go to Uganda in Africa to see family, but sadly the flight was cancelled. My cousin from France was supposed to come to London for his internship, but that has been postponed.
‘Covid-19 has taught me to spend more quality time with my family and enjoy the time playing games together.
‘I miss seeing friends and family and going outside without staying 2 metres away from everyone.
‘Currently, I think our situation is okay because we have a garden to play in and get fresh air.
‘We don’t need to go out of the house, unless for food and supplies.
‘From next week, I will be starting online classes and online music lessons, so that our teachers can check in with us.’
‘The thing that Covid 19 has effected the most for me is my work-home life balance. I work as a performer and designer, so the majority of my work happens in the evenings.
‘For the first time in a long time, my evenings are my own again. I lost two months worth of dance work, as well as additional freelance teaching overnight.
‘We’re incredibly lucky that there are petitions to help for self-employed, and fundraisers to help theatres re-open post June 2020. It gives us hope that our
careers will continue post-pandemic.
‘In the meantime, the only thing we can do is to create at home, keep in touch with our loved ones and rebalance ourselves.
Time has slowed
‘It’s a strange time, because it feels a lot like we are living in both the past and the future. There’s a real retro feeling to the experience, almost as though we’ve been transported back in time to the eighties. I think this stems from taking time out of the sheer speed 21st century to call up our family and friends, and really listening.
‘The thing that I miss the most isn’t performing (although that is a close second!), but having nonvirtual access to my family. I’ve missed both Mothers Day and Easter and I feel really guilty about that.
‘However, I’m lucky enough to live with a group of friends, and we’re finally able to make time to cook and eat meals together again as our busy schedules no longer clash.
‘Time has slowed. On the other hand, there’s also something inherently futuristic about our current situation. A lot of the news makes me feel as though we’re in a film, or even an episode of Black Mirror.
‘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.’
‘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.
‘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!
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’
Serena and Chloe
‘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.’
‘I live with my adult daughter and her dog and our domestic routines have not changed as much as that of others because my daughter continues to work outside the home.
‘However like everybody we have to learn to deal with the increased uncertainty of our future and accept the lack of control we have over our lives.
‘We miss most the casual tactility and fun of going out and meeting family and friends.
‘Living with this new virus requires us to come up with a new list of priorities, appreciate the basics, reduce the speed of chasing goals and to lean to assess activities more by their intrinsic value and not so much by their financial reward.
‘I spend a lot of my time trying to follow the scientific research into Covid-19 to learn how life with the virus could shape our future, but am frustrated to find little global approach to the pandemic and few preliminary findings that help on a practical level.
‘Before Covid-19 I would worry about my uncertain future, now everyone has joined me and I don’t feel so alone, because we’re are all in it together.’
Hannah and Annabella
‘At my stepfather’s funeral in mid March, my stepbrother arrived from LA with flu symptoms,’ says Hannah. ‘He had the virus, it turned out.
‘Because he was staying with us, we were all very fearful that the rest of the family would catch it, particularly my 70-year-old mother, and my 95-year-old grandma.
‘My family is devastated to know that a parent at my daughter’s school caught the virus and died very fast aged 65, tragically leaving three young children and his
‘His wife had the virus when he died: her mixture of grief with having to combat contagion seems an impossibly cruel situation to be in.
‘I live with my husband and three children aged 18, 13 and 10. The pandemic has taught us that our family and our health mean everything. That kindness towards
strangers is endless. That we have a responsibility to protect hundreds of people around us.
‘My mother is indescribably sad: she has lost her husband, yet she can’t even have a cup of tea with her neighbours. We cannot be together to console her, and probate cannot start, so she’s in complete limbo.’
Annabella adds: ‘It’s stopping me from going outside and being with my friends. It feels like you’re not so much part of a community because you can’t do social things.
‘It’s made me feel separated from the world.’
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones
‘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 five 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.
I think what I miss most is the usually casual nature of my life
‘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.’
‘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, it’s tough not seeing those you love but so many ways to connect in the meantime, thank you technology!’