Hi, my name is Julia Fullerton-Batten. I am a fine art photographer. I have been confronted with cameras and photography ever since I was born. My father became a keen photographer when we children started arriving. Constantly snapping family shots, he also took his cameras with him on business trips. We enjoyed many an evening watching his slide shows of shots taken in far-away places.
Back then, he had a makeshift darkroom and we had to remove B&W prints washing in the bathtub before we could get in it. I think some of the fixing solution must have permeated into my psyche because, when it came time for me to decide at 16 years of age what career direction I wanted to take, it was only going to be photography.
I studied photography at college for a couple of years and then assisted for five years. My clients were commercial professional photographers engaged in many different oeuvres – still life, people, fashion, travel, editorial, cars, etc. It was a wonderful training period and I learned a lot more that has benefited my career doing that than I ever did at college. It was the mixture of technical, organisational and business expertise that has been important. Every photographer that I assisted used different kit and had a different way of packing it, but I benefited from this experience as well.
As my career has developed my technique and equipment have changed dramatically. Initially I shot only film, in fact I changed to digital quite late and only when I was certain that I could achieve the same quality as with film. It was very important for me as a fine-art photographer not to lose the style that I had built up over a number of years. Shooting film was quite laborious, involving the use of Polaroid trial images to ensure that I was achieving the desired effect. Instead of a laptop, I lugged a heavy case full of Polaroid and film around with me. I began to use increasingly complex lighting set-ups, mixing artificial and natural light. Nowadays I can use anything up to 30 flash heads for a shot!
I never had a studio and always worked from home. This keeps the overheads low and has special personal benefits now that I have young children. Although it gets complicated juggling the school run with my husband, it is a joy for me to spend whatever spare time I have with my two boys (now 5 and 7), watching them grow up. Obviously, tradition has repeated itself and I, too, have now amassed hundreds, if not thousands, of children shots.
Early on, I could store all my lighting equipment at home. But it soon became obvious that this was no longer possible as the space that it took up became unreasonable, and early starts with troops of assistants walking through the house and waking (finally) sleeping children was not on, let alone the destruction of the house decoration and the unpleasant viewing of lighting bags, boxes and other paraphernalia.
Now all my gear is safely locked away in a storage facility from where my assistants can load it directly on to the van, and I can meet up with them and my gear at the location. After the shoot it is returned to storage and it never comes home. Naturally, everything is checked over before and after every shoot. As my lighting requirements have increased, I often have to rent extra and this is trans-shipped to the location.
As a fine-art photographer, part of my ‘equipment’ comprises also clothing for my models and props of many different kinds, and various shapes and sizes, ranging from stuffed animals to old TV’s, etc. Hence transport means is an important part of my kit. We own one van, but frequently need to rent a second to handle the amount of equipment and the increased number of assistants.
After years of using a 5×4 Linhof Technicarden film camera, I now use a Hasselblad 501CM with a digital back. Presently this latter is a Phase One P65+, but I’m going to have to upgrade to an IQ1 back which will enable me to work much better in low light at higher ISO.
I am particularly fond of the Hasselblad, looking down into the viewfinder means that I shoot more from the hip-height rather than at eye level. I still have the same manual camera I had years ago when I was using film.
All my work is shot on a tripod. I approach my subject matter with a still life attitude, setting up the camera up and creating a movie still with framing. I like building layers and creating effects directly in the camera.
My favourite lenses are Hasselblad 40mm f/4, Hasselblad 50mm f/3.5 and Hasselblad 60 mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss lenses. My images tell stories and the surroundings are as important as what the model is doing. In a small space the 40mm does not cause much distortion.
The 60mm is my favourite lens. I find the standard 80mm lens a bit normal, and the 60mm is just that bit wider…
I use 3 – 4 Lacie Rugged 2T external hard-drives. I am very cautious about backing up my shots more than twice. I also distribute them between my art director, assistants and my home office. If one version gets lost for any reason, there is always another copy somewhere else. Likewise, if we are flying separately back from a location, I always ensure that the drives are on different flights.
This is a list of the lighting and other equipment that I like to have available.
• 25 flash heads and packs and stands, this can be either Broncolor, Elinchrom or Prophoto
• 3 Beauty Dishes (2x white/1x silver) with grids and diffusers
• Grid set x 4
• 3x Magnum dishes
• 3x large octa
• 2x strips
• 3 different size softboxes with grids
• 1x snoot
• 2x double wind ups
• 2x triple wind ups
• 2x mega boom arm
• 2x Large stands 2x boom arms and weights
• 5x Head to pack extension
• Radio syncs for all flash
• 2″ gaffer tape
• Roll of diffuser
• Roll of ND gels
• Coloured gels
• Black wrap