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Meet the extraordinary Ukrainian travel photographer showing new perspectives of famous destinations

Julia Wimmerlin is a Ukrainian photographer famous for images of snow monkeys.
Julia Wimmerlin is a Ukrainian photographer famous for images of snow monkeys.   -   Copyright  Julia Wimmerlin   -  
By Maeve Campbell  & Scott Brownlee

This Ukrainian-born photographer has travelled the world, bringing back fresh perspectives to renowned places.

Currently living in Switzerland, Julia Wimmerlin has spent the last 10 years on the move, photographing places, people and wildlife around the globe.

With a background in marketing, her travel and landscape photography is heavily influenced by contemporary art and fashion.

We asked Julia about her experiences as a travel photographer.

How did you start out in photography and begin to share your work on social media?

I only held my first camera when I was 34 years old, until then my professional life was all about marketing.

My husband was sent on a job assignment to Japan and that absolutely different world required being recorded. I saw beauty in everything, I remember taking photos of beautiful trash in Japan.

Julia Wimmerlin
Wimmerlin's photos of Japanese snow monkeys went viral.Julia Wimmerlin

We then moved to the Philippines where I could no longer have my marketing practice, so I had time to concentrate on photography.

After one of my Japanese snow monkeys’ photos became viral I started noticing the increase in my web presence.

After one of my Japanese snow monkeys’ photos became viral I started noticing the increase in my web presence.

What challenges have you faced when gaining access to people or places?

I guess it always depends on where you go and what you want to shoot. You can’t just arrive in Bagan, Myanmar and go to a monastery hoping to get in and spend a day there while the students eat, pray and study.

Neither can you arrive in Borneo and hope to immediately see a wild orangutan. Apart from the publicly accessible landmarks you always need a fixer or a guide to bring you to the places only locals know about or have access.

Julia Wimmerlin
Bagan, MyanmarJulia Wimmerlin

Do you think your challenges are different, being a woman in the industry?

Yes, for sure.

Even when I buy equipment the sellers assume it’s for my husband. “The photographer must be a guy” - you need to fight this stereotype to be taken seriously.

Sometimes it’s safety that becomes a challenge, in certain places a female travel photographer is much less safe than a man.

Julia Wimmerlin
Travel photographyJulia Wimmerlin

What is the most memorable photo you’ve ever taken?

Photographing cheetahs in Namibia was truly unforgettable. These were hand-reared orphaned cheetahs who became accustomed to people but who nevertheless stayed wild and hunted themselves.

In order to attract their attention, I used a stick with a thin rope tied to it, and at the end, I attached a few chicken feathers to make it a big cat toy. I still remember the feeling of suddenly seeing a cheetah running full speed towards me from the bush. But it stopped right in front of me, looking very intrigued by my DIY toy.

Julia Wimmerlin
Travel photographyJulia Wimmerlin

What are some of the biggest challenges you face when trying to get a shot?

In travel photography most often, it’s logistics and weather. Whilst you can try to improve the logistical side, the only thing you can do with the weather is to be patient, opportunistic and optimistic.

Julia Wimmerlin
Travel photographyJulia Wimmerlin

Do you have any advice for other travel photographers?

Always look for a personal perspective of any famous landmark. With current image saturation, people no longer notice the shots they’ve already seen, so do the extra work in finding another angle, perspective. Or being lucky with the weather will surely make you stand out much more!