Meet Julia of “Philly with a Fjallraven!” For those of you who have been following my blog for a bit, this hasn’t been the first time you’ve been introduced to Julia. She has also written two amazing guest travel posts about Philadelphia and Denmark for my blog. Needless to say, I absolutely love following Julia’s adventures around the country and the world!
And for this feature, I wanted you to get to know more about how amazing and talented Julia is too, and why I enjoy following her so much! Not only does she produce all the amazing travel photos and content on her blog “Philly with a Fjallraven,” she also has started her own photography course and has even made some exciting career changes, thanks to her blogging and photography skills.
But, I’ll let Julia tell you all about that in her Q&A! Be sure to check out her blog here, and give her Q&A a read, below!
Q&A with Julia
Tell me a little about yourself.
Julia: Hi! I’m a travel and photography blogger at Philly with a Fjallraven. I live in Philadelphia with my adorable Siberian Husky, Annika, and I’ve been here for about two years. I’ve been a hobby photographer for almost 10 years, and I was taking so many photos and was just storing them instead of publishing them, so that’s what inspired me to start my blog!
How would you describe your blog, “Philly with a Fjallraven?”
Julia: My blog has changed quite a bit since I started it, so the description keeps changing! It started out as a street photography blog to encourage myself to explore Philadelphia after I moved here, but it recently changed to a travel photography blog because I love traveling so much and wanted to share my experiences. I still blog quite a bit about Philadelphia, but I’m enjoying writing all my new travel posts! I have also been writing posts with photography tips, like advice for buying a camera or easy tricks in Photoshop.
What inspired you to create, “Philly with a Fjallraven?” And what’s the story behind the fun name?
Julia: Since it started as a Philadelphia blog, I wanted Philly to be in the name. And for Fjallraven, that has a bit of a backstory. I studied abroad in Denmark to study Vikings a few years ago and fell in love with Scandinavian culture and loved the Swedish Fjallraven backpacks that I saw everywhere, but they were pretty expensive to buy in Denmark. A little while after I got back to the U.S., Amazon started carrying Fjallravens, and my boyfriend (who I met in Denmark, and we’re still together four and a half years later!) got me one for Christmas! I’m a photographer but I don’t really like shoulder camera bags, so I used my Fjallraven for all my camera gear. Since I was exploring Philadelphia (and now the world) with my Fjallraven and since it had a personal meaning to me, I wanted to include that in my blog name, too.
What do you hope the future holds for Philly with a Fjallraven?
Julia: I hope it has more traveling adventures! I recently went to Italy, and I’m also trying to travel more in the U.S. I’ve been to 39 states so far, and I’m hoping to get all 50 before I turn 30. I have plans to visit three new states (and fingers crossed for a fourth) this year. I’m also hoping I can return to Denmark in the next year or two to continue studying Vikings!
I also recently upgraded my camera, so I’m always trying to improve my photography skills and share my knowledge on my blog.
What has been your favorite post on Philly with a Fjallraven so far and why?
Julia: I can’t pick just one, but one of my favorite recent posts was about quitting my job! I am now a freelancer, and I wrote an honest post about why I quit my job and all the steps I took to get freelancing work. I wanted to be a freelancer so I could travel more, and I’m hoping it will help me achieve a career dream (that I hope to have a post on soon!). It was a very long and complicated story, but it’s been so touching to hear that people were inspired by my post and appreciated my honesty, and I hope it will help someone else follow their career dreams!
What would you say is the #1 thing a visitor to Philly has to do? And what is your favorite thing about Philly?
Julia: I have so many recommendations! Obviously, visitors need to go to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and eat a cheesesteak (Pat’s a Geno’s are the most well-known cheesesteak places, and my favorite is Cleavers). It’s touristy, but that’s the thing to do in Philly since it’s the home of U.S. history! But my favorite historical place that mostly only locals know about is Elfreth’s Alley. It’s the oldest residential street in the country, and it’s just a nice place to walk around and see some history away from the crowds of tourists. For desserts, make sure you get water ice (I don’t know why it’s called that, it’s just a local thing) from Rita’s or an old-fashioned sundae from Franklin Fountain.
I have a whole post on everything you can do in Philly in a few days because there’s so much to do here!
Philly isn’t the only location you blog about. You’ve also taken some amazing trips! Have you always loved travel? And what are some travel tips you could share with us?
Julia: My family traveled around the U.S. and Canada quite a bit when I was younger, which is how I’ve been to so many states so far. I loved those trips (though I don’t miss being squished in a van with seven people for long road trips!) and it got me interested in traveling when I was older, so I decided to study abroad. Studying abroad in Denmark was my first European experience, and I took advantage of it by visiting seven other countries while I was there and really fell in love with traveling. After that, I wasn’t able to do much other traveling until I was out of college, and I went to Mexico and Italy this past year and fell in love with it all over again!
For travel tips, make sure you have a map, money, and know some basic words in the country’s language. I got separated from my travel partner and stuck on a bus going the wrong direction in Estonia without any money, a map, a cell phone, or any knowledge of Estonian or Russian. I have learned my lesson! Oh and definitely research restaurants so you don’t get parasites in Mexico like I did! (Trust me, it’s no fun.)
I also suggest traveling within your means, but if there’s something you’ve been dying to do or buy, it’s worth splurging. During my trip to Italy, my friends and I splurged a bit on various boat and driving tours, and it was worth every penny. We got to learn a lot about local life in the different locations, and we got to see a lot of sights we wouldn’t have been able to without a guide. I even got to swim in the Green Grotto on Capri during our boat tour! I try to budget travel as much as I can, but if there’s something that I would regret not doing or buying, it’s worth the splurge.
Your photography is amazing! How did you get started in photography?
Julia: Thank you! I got started when I was 12 and begged my mom for this point-and-shoot camera that took pretty low-quality photos, but it looked cute. I scrimped and saved in high school so I could upgrade to a DSLR and got a Nikon D60, and I took that camera everywhere. I think I started pursuing photography seriously because I liked the challenge. A lot of people think photographers just push buttons, but you have to understand things like exposure and composition, and I love the challenge of trying to take the perfect photo. In college, I took film photography courses and loved the challenges of the darkroom (I’m planning on having my own darkroom one day!) and experimenting with different developing methods. I also took courses in Photoshop, and now one of my freelance jobs is being a photo editor. I enjoy the challenge of removing or adding people or objects into photos and completely recreating a photo.
Creating a photo I’m proud of is rewarding, and I love the challenging work that goes into it!
Not only do you take amazing photos, but you also offer a photography course. Could you tell us a little more about this course?
Julia: When I first got my Nikon D60, understanding how to use manual mode was confusing and overwhelming, and I didn’t really start using it until my photography courses in college. Using manual mode completely changed the photography game for me and my photography immediately began to improve, but by that point, I had missed out on some great photo opportunities, like taking pictures of the Northern Lights in Iceland. I created my course Understand Your DSLR and Improve Your Photography because I didn’t want people to miss out on photo opportunities like I did. And I know that manual mode can be confusing, so my course is short and sweet videos that break down each mode to show how you can use them to improve your photography. And students in the course also have access to a Facebook group to get feedback on photos and ask me questions at any time!
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue freelance?
Julia: I’m a mega introvert and I’m terrible at networking (in my post, I talk about how a nun had to save me at my first networking event), but it does actually work, as much as I hate to admit it! I got all of my freelance work by reaching out to people that I had met in person and online. And one of the craziest things I noticed was that there weren’t any job postings for the companies I reached out to, but they saw my skills and how I could help them. Some jobs are just a few hours a week, but it all adds up. So even if there isn’t a job posting, reach out anyway because they might not be posting because they’re not looking for a full-time person, but they might want your skills for part time work.
Last but not least, do you have any advice you would like to share for someone starting their own blog?
Julia: I actually have a whole post on this because I learned a TON about blogging during my first year! You should definitely start a blog if you’ve been thinking about it, and if you think all the topics have been covered already, no one has had the exact same experience as you. No one has had the exact same experience as me, like being saved by a nun at a networking event and sailing a Viking ship in Denmark and getting parasites in Mexico. You may have heard of having a blogging “niche,” but my niche is all over the place and I can help so many different kinds of people with my experiences. Your experiences and voice are unique!
How can my readers find and follow you?