May 23, 2024

Interview with Julia Wimmerlin on Photography Trends


Julia Wimmerlin.


Country: Switzerland

Photography Genres: Fine Art, Portrait and Travel

Fave Camera Brand: Canon


What’s in your camera bag?

  • Canon R5
  • 24-105mm f/4
  • 70-200mm f/2.8
  • 16-35mm f/2.8
  • Canon R5
  • 24-105mm f/4
  • 70-200mm f/2.8
  • 16-35mm f/2.8

Are there any specific equipment or gear innovations that you believe will have a significant impact on the industry in 2024?

Artificial Intelligence.

Where do you get the latest news on new gear? Where do you usually buy new gear?

I buy my equipment depending on where I’m living. So most recently Switzerland and Asia in the past. I haven’t bought much equipment lately since I have the most things I need. And for where I find the latest news, I read a lot of blogs, and I get some niche gear information from the artists I follow.

How is photography making the world a better place in 2024?

I’m Ukrainian, thus I’m living through a very difficult period, and both documentary and art photography are my main tools to spread the message about what my country is going through. It helped me to live through 2022. So, photography is making the world a better place through the possibility of documenting the truth on one side and reflection and healing through art photography on the other side. Many people who suffer from great stress or depression resort to photography as a healing process. They see it as a way to digest and accept what is happening.

There are two distinctive trends I see. One is for something exuberant, very bright, very out of the ordinary, very escapist, arty, going to the extremes, and bordering on abstract. Elizaveta Porodina and Rafael Pavarotti are good examples here.

The other one is where it’s all returning to basics, to the beauty of small things, the beauty of daily life. The examples would be Wolfgang Tillmans and Chris Rhodes. I would say that these are two opposite yet complimentary trends – and I guess I see less of what’s happening in the middle.

photo by Julia Wimmerlin.
© Julia Wimmerlin.

If you could pick a photography mentor in 2024, who would you pick? Why?

So, I would base this on the previously mentioned trends. For example, for anything to do with exuberance or extravagantness and being out of this world, it would be Elizaveta Porodina. And for the real close to life, everyday beauty trends would be Wolfgang Tillmans and Chris Rhodes.

The unavoidable question: How do you see the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning impacting photography in 2024?

It has a strong impact, and we already see it happening. But a lot of people see it as a threat; I don’t see it as a threat.

Clearly, for certain jobs, especially commercial ones where you have to do simple stock photography, still-life, or lifestyle, then yes, those jobs could go to AI. But I love how it can help you create your own world and enrich your photography.

You can use AI as a mood board, you can use your own prompts, and you can come up with ideas that you would never have thought of before. Or you can even create and merge with your photos to enrich compositing, creating double exposure, or even morphing – it’s really up to the photographer.

The books I read and would definitely recommend:

  • Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon.
  • Ways of Seeing” by John Berger.
  • Why it Does Not Have to Be in Focus. Modern Photography Explained” by Jackie Higgins.

As for resources, I often use Instagram, but I don’t follow it blindly. There are artists I follow, artists galleries, or museums.

I prefer to see curated work and those that have stood the test of time. By that, I follow the classics; the classics come in all sorts of styles and genres.

What is your go-to method for overcoming creative block and finding inspiration in 2024?

I follow classical works, such as Helmut Newton and Erwing Blumenfeld, they give you direction, and then you study them to see how much repetition has been happening over the years. I like to go back to what’s been curated to be able to educate myself; I look at original work and use that as a reference.

Sometimes, you will see a simple shot, and it will spark an idea, and that doesn’t mean you have to recreate it; it means that it gives you an inspiration to go somewhere. I say this to my students – when nothing inspires you, take something you’ve never realized but you’ve thought about it; even if it’s simple, still do it. Because in the process of doing so, you will start having new ideas.

If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner in photography, what would it be?

I see a lot of beginner photographers who look at the latest internet trends and Instagram stories and think they have to repeat what they see. What they don’t realize is that it’s a repetition of a repetition of a repetition, and I’ve seen this so many times. I see the same picture taken over and over, and no one knows who took it first. And whoever did take it first, it was revolutionary at the time, but over so many repetitions, it has lost its essence and pure effect. So I prefer to go to the source, and I advise going to the beginning of photography and seeing the originals.

travel photography.
© Julia Wimmerlin.

Capture One, especially for any studio work. I would highly recommend everyone to use this tool. It was originally developed for tethering, and it is completely unbeatable at that. It also allows for a different way of editing, and it revolutionizes my workflow.

Any thoughts on the relationship of NFT and photography?

I tried NFT as a 500px ambassador when they launched an NFT platform in May 2022. A leader in their field, 500px promoted the launch, I had a couple of works sold, and that’s pretty much it. After the hype is gone, just like anything else, you need to work on it for it to work. After all, it’s a type of social media where you also need to be social, create your fan base, create art more suitable for NFT. It’s a lot to do for a specific media channel, and you need to have your niche. You need to love it to do it; if you’re doing it just to be present in all the channels, then I don’t think it’s worth it.

What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness as a photographer in 2024?

For weakness, I didn’t think I needed a niche because I believed you could do a little bit of everything – but now it no longer works because I matured with what I’m doing, and I understand now that you need a style and niche, but you have to decide on it. When you like everything, it’s wonderful, but it will not help you as a photographer. I’m trying to find that niche and really struggling, but it won’t be by genre, but it will be by style (using certain frames, specific colors, or specific looks).

My strengths come from my weaknesses; I can learn very quickly by learning different techniques and genres. By having a quick reaction, I can think on the spot and know what works for me.

Julia Wimmerlin Portrait.

Photography is an art form, and you can’t do art if you don’t believe in it or if you listen to everyone.

Julia Wimmerlin

What is the biggest challenge in your photography genre in 2024? What are the solutions?

The biggest challenge would be defining that niche and making a portfolio of very cohesive work. For example, popular travel photography is very postcard style. There are different styles of that postcard look, but the main trend is everything is perfect and beautiful; however, everything that’s perfect can be boring. I want to go beyond that – personally, I would make it more authentic, more creative, or even dreamier. I want to make a work of art out of it rather than a postcard – or move it from a postcard to a painting so that you are getting the style of the person behind the camera as well as the place.

What is the most important factor to consider when choosing a photography niche or specialization in 2024?

I would start with what I’m interested in. It will depend on what I want because, in the end, you need to go back to the main question of why you started to do photography. Was it for money or because you loved it? For me, it was because I loved it, and I want to continue to love it. For that, I have to consider my interests.

Can you name one unconventional location or setting that photographers should explore to create memorable images?

It’s not about one location. It’s really about the photographer. Art and development start when you exit your comfort zone. So find where you feel least comfortable and go there. For example, I know a lot of wedding photographers in Ukraine who started doing war and documentary photography when the war started. It’s clearly not by choice, but they suddenly found a new visual language, and in turn, they became better photographers. So, it’s not about a specific location. It’s about taking what you usually do and going in the opposite direction, and it will produce something interesting.

One underrated photography technique that can instantly enhance a photographer’s portfolio.

Framing. It’s one of the easiest to achieve but one of the most underrated. There are photographers who build their entire careers on framing. Depends on what you photograph. Even just looking at how photography inspired art in terms of framing was revolutionary and quite fascinating. There are also so many documentary photographers that you can follow to get inspiration on framing.

fine art photography.
© Julia Wimmerlin.

Is there anything else you would like to add or any final thoughts you would like to share about your artistic journey, inspirations, or the impact you hope to make through your photography?

I think what’s important is why you’re doing it. I see so many people who started in photography just because they liked the idea of taking pictures of traveling, so they started doing this and gained success. It became a constant source of stress for them because they needed to deliver, they needed to be better, and something that used to be the highlight of the day turned into a stressful job. That is something I would not wish on anyone.

Photography is an art form, and you can’t do art if you don’t believe in it or if you listen to everyone. It has to come from you and what you are, what you like, and when you’re honest. Because if you listen to everyone, then you’ll just repeat their work, and it’ll never be yours. And I think that’s one of the biggest threats you see at the moment – everyone copies everyone, and you see the same work everywhere.

So I would suggest trying to see what was done before and how they came to that, and that will teach you so much more. For example, Erwin Blumenfeld did things he did with his camera in the darkroom; there are people now with Photoshop who are still not capable of repeating things in the same way.

You think we missed an important question? Feel free to both formulate and answer that question here! Any final thoughts? Feel free to add them below.

I think you did a fantastic job! I appreciate the effort to record and obtain my answers.

  • Favourite photography digital tool in 2024
    — AI
  • Your favourite Photographer in 2024
    — Erwin Blumenfeld, Hort P Horst, Bill Brandt, Paul Rousteau, Sarah van Rij, Tim Flach, Marta Bevacqua, Elizaveta Porodina.
  • Which social media platform do you use the most as a photographer?
    — Instagram
  • Will you use or experiment with NFT in 2024?
    — No
  • Do you think the always-improving cameras on smartphones will result in less work for professional photographers in 2024?
    — No
  • Which online platform or marketplace is currently the best for photographers to sell their work and reach a wider audience?
    — Saatchi Art
  • What is your motto for 2024?
    — “Find what you love and shoot what you love. But in a restrained way, don’t try to shoot everything. Find a niche.”
  • Name one unconventional location or setting that photographers should explore to create memorable images.
    — Art museums. It is not photographic but modern, contemporary, or classical art to get inspiration for composition, colors, and subjects.
  • Which photography trend will dominate the industry in 2024?
    — The two I described in the beginning.
    1. Colorful, exuberant, escapist.
    2. Real-life but in a beautiful poetic way.
  • Three must-have photography gadgets or tools for aspiring photographers?
    — A convenient camera carrying device (like a holster), Capture One or Camera Ranger, colorful photography gels to change the color of the whole frame or part of it.
  • What is the most innovative use of technology you’ve seen in photography recently?
    — When they use 3D models and AI, some people are gifted with it and blend it with their own photography. It’s very specific to the artist because they have to understand how this tool can be tamed.
  • Which photography conference, workshop, event, exhibition, etc., would you recommend to photographers in 2024?
    — Photo London, Paris Photo, Art Basel, Photo Basel, or any big photographic events in your area.
  • Who to follow on social media or take inspiration from in 2024?
    — Erwin Blumenfeld, Hort P Horst, Bill Brandt, Paul Rousteau, Sarah van Rij, Tim Flach, Marta Bevacqua, Elizaveta Porodina.

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