These photos capture the feeling of wanting to escape

These walks – guided by the images that Tallott wanted to witness and capture with his camera – became a form of “escapism,” he explains. “I was looking for beauty, or something a bit utopian, to look into a different world.” The result of this search was a set of “blissful, utopian, high-saturation” images that stood in stark contrast to the darkness he was experiencing at the same time. “You’re almost running from what you’re feeling,” he adds, of the escapist impulse that drives the series. “You want a window into something else.”

Now 24, Tallott first picked up a camera in his late teens, drawn to point-and-shoots as a way to capture the punk shows he went to at the time, and to quickly get the pictures out to his friends. After that, he started taking the camera to his nan’s house, his grandad’s snooker club, and the factories where his dad worked as a welder. For stylistic inspiration, he looked toward the black-and-white photography of the Provoke era in post-war Japan, as well as more contemporary work by the likes of Albert Elm, Chris Shaw, and Ryan McGinley.

“I don’t know why I gravitated toward all that stuff,” he says, of the factories and family homes that feature in his earlier work. “I think I was trying to tell the stories of [all these] different people.” Some of these are featured in the photo book alongside the “escapist” images he produced under NHS care, and, though the subject matter is very different, the energy – mixed with vulnerability – forms a striking through-line.

Take a look at some of the highlights from At Least Until the World Stops Going Round in the gallery above, and read more about the book in our conversation with Charlie Tallott below.

Where did the title, At Least Until the World Stops Going Round, come from?

Charlie Tallott: The title itself… first and foremost, it’s a line from a Leeds United song. That’s where I first heard it and caught onto it. But it was basically what my mum was saying to me a lot of the time, throughout that period. She used to say, like, ‘The sun’s always gonna come up tomorrow,’ or, ‘The world keeps turning,’ reminding me of life’s temporality, that the whole thing is just temporary. It puts the pressure off you. 

That kind of language, I was writing [it] down a lot, and that’s where you see the script in the book. That’s all from my mum, basically, saying that type of stuff to me, and me writing it down, taking it in, while I was in that period where I was getting looked after. Sometimes you just need reminding… especially in that type of period in your life. It’s basically someone putting their arm around you and going, ‘Don’t fucking worry about it.’

Where does photography fit into that period for you? Did your relationship with photography change over that time?

Charlie Tallott: I think it [changed] massively to be honest. In that period when I was only allowed out for an hour, my whole day was building up to this hour where [I’ve] got my camera, and I need to just go and feel something, and I’m gonna go and get it. And then after that, I had unlimited time with [the camera]. Right now… I don’t think, since making the book, I haven’t shot a photo in about three months, which is really odd for me. 

I’m almost sick of my work at the moment, because I’m flicking through it so much and looking over it. and there’s been a lot of editing down and killing your darlings, and being like: ‘No, get rid of that. It’s a nice photo, but it’s not saying what I want to say.’ I’m so engrossed in [the book] and obviously some of it is from quite a difficult time. It’s heavy to look at every day. It’s good, though. It’s a therapeutic thing to go through, but it’s definitely taxing.

How does it feel, now, to have this physical document – the book – that tells the story of that time?

Charlie Tallott: It’s good. It’s like a gentle reminder. I think you can slip back into those types of feelings, or a similar situation, but like the title itself… it’s like, the world’s just gonna keep turning, things are gonna come and pass, and the tide goes in and out. It’s all temporary. I think that’s the main thing I learned, and it’s quite nice to have a permanent documentation of these temporary things – a once-in-a-lifetime image, or things that you don’t feel very often.

You mentioned editing and killing your darlings if they didn’t serve the book. Why did you keep what you kept?

Charlie Tallott: It’s a difficult one. The subject matter is so varied. It’s like, ‘Why would you keep a swan, next to someone’s scratched back?’ But I think it’s just what you gravitate towards. It’s a visceral feeling almost. You look at it and you know, instantly, if it fits the body of work. I think a lot of them have that same kind of cloud over them. You can almost see my discontent, call it what you want, depression or whatever. You can almost feel that kind of agitation in the images, there’s a texture to them and a mood to them, this kind of escapist want.

There’s an energy in a lot of the photos. They feel like a freeze frame, or like there’s a lot going on outside the frame.

Charlie Tallott: Yeah. They’re quite busy. It feels quite like [a] snapshot ,and you’re in a whirlwind almost. They’re quite visceral, and there’s a lot of agitation and texture and angst to them, I guess.

Why do you think photography is such a good vessel for escapism?

Charlie Tallott: The escapist thing, it’s there if you want it. Like, you can go and grab this feeling, this emotion, and capture it. It’s there, and if you’re not feeling it, someone else is. Especially when you’re in a low point in life… for me, I started making my most euphoric work in that time, because you’re almost running from what you’re feeling, you want a window into something else. 

You’re just desperate to put something through your lens, and then look at it and have a permanent thing that you can hold and look at, that will take you away from where you are. Photography is quite a powerful tool in that sense. You can make tiny little windows, glimpses into other people’s worlds, other people’s feelings, your feelings. It can be pasted onto other people’s lives quite easily as well.

Is it also about cutting out what’s outside the frame?

Charlie Tallott: Yeah, and I think that’s also a big part of [it] once you’ve got the body of work. You need to cut down further, and trim, and then sequence [the images]. You’re cutting off the fat, you’re going full pelt, no filler. You need to be harsh with what you want to say, and, yeah, kill your darlings. Stop having this affection or affinity over certain images, if they’re not saying what you want to say. If they don’t work in the book, then you have to cut them no matter what, even if they’re a special image or whatever. You’re brutally cutting them out in the name of threading that needle of narrative.

At Least Until the World Stops Going Round is published by New Dimension and will launch at Photo London 2024.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, you can contact Samaritans by phone or email here

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  • Source of information and images “dazeddigital

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