Photographer on the road to self-employment. | Mercedes-Benz Vans

A photographer and her Sprinter on the road to self-employment.

Berlin-based photographer Julia Nimke drives her Sprinter "Emil" in the direction of self-employment.

Inspiration from seclusion.

On an early autumn morning, thick banks of fog draw across a small lake to the south of Berlin. Julia Nimke spent the night in her van parked in a clearing near the water's edge. With a full backpack and a camera hanging from her shoulder, she closes the door and heads off through the forest in the direction of the water. This is precisely the time of day at which she prefers to be out and about – just before sunrise. "When most people are still sleeping, I feel like I have the landscape and the moment all to myself," says the 28-year-old photographer. In her self-converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter which she lovingly calls "Emil", Julia seeks out isolation as her inspiration for photos full of atmosphere.

A gentle transition into self-employment.

During her time at school, Julia had already dabbled intensively in photography. She learned how to manually operate cameras and discovered working in the darkroom. Aged 15, she decided that she absolutely wanted to follow a creative career path. After her technical training which took her up to professional photographer status, Julia worked part-time as a picture editor to allow herself to take on some freelance projects on the side. "These years were a big help to me in terms of building up a customer base and generating orders," she recalls. She now sees the switch to working entirely freelance as the next logical step.

Independently around Europe.

The biggest hurdles according to Julia are, on the one hand, the bureaucracy involved and, on the other hand, generating the necessary amount of energy to get things up and running. One of the things which helped her in making her decision was a one-year funding programme from software giant Adobe, which enables a number of hand-picked artists from around the world to set themselves up for their line of work. For Julia, that meant she was able to spend more time in "Emil" discovering Europe by herself and thus being able to unite her passion for photography with her fascination for nature. What she especially likes about her Sprinter is its discreet exterior look which means it's not immediately recognisable as a camper van. "Plus, Mercedes-Benz quite simply stands for very reliable vehicles," she continues. "And with me travelling alone, I don't particularly fancy having to deal with a breakdown."


Take the leap.

"I like to have a certain degree of security. But from an early stage, it was clear that I didn't want to be an employee for eternity. Working freelance does mean that you have to deal with some level of uncertainty – and accepting that took quite a while."

Julia Nimke – a photographer and her van on their roadtrip to self-employment.

Julia tends to advertise her work using Instagram and on her own website where she posts not only work-related but also private projects. She wants to find more customers who will help support her lifestyle: "I travel a lot and when I travel, I do a lot of photography. And that means I can offer truly authentic travel photography." The style of her photos has become increasingly more simple over the past years – a trend which is also reflected in her daily life: "When I'm touring with 'Emil', it always becomes clear to me that I actually don't need much."

Julia's top 5 tips for better photos:

    1. Photograph as much as possible in order to really sharpen your perspectives. The eye can be trained just like any muscle.
    2.   Don't use zoom lenses, but learn how to create your pictures with a fixed focal distance. That will teach you about how to use distances and relationships in creating your pictures.
    3.  Become so familiar with your equipment that you can operate it intuitively.

4.  Show and share your work. Learning is a process and as part of it, we shouldn't restrict ourselves solely to supposedly perfect works. It's much more interesting to see how you arrived at them.

    5. Don't compare yourself with others. There's always someone who can do something in a better or more attractive way. Comparisons only serve to make you unhappy.

Everything has its price.

During her last tour in the Dolomites, Julia had to deal with temperatures of –20 °C overnight.    


Creative minimalism.

Her motifs often portray the so-called blue hour.    

Nature at its finest.


Julia loves the fact that her photography allows her to discover places full of ambience.

A Sprinter called Emil.

Thanks to her mobile office, she can work from any location.    


Julia Nimke, Jaydee Nujsongsinn

More links to discover:

Julia Nimke -, @Instagram

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