I am one of those people who tends to ‘settle’ easily. I get comfortable in a job, in a relationship, in a routine. Change often feels a little too daunting and the idea of letting someone down riddles me with guilt.

Photography is my profession. I studied it at a professional level in one of the world’s leading photographic courses, at RMIT University in Melbourne. I had been working on my business for a few years, doing freelance work here and there, building my folio, working on personal projects, and setting up a print shop on my website. While I had the passion and the skillset, what I never had was time. You need time to develop a business on top of the time you need to book and shoot for your clients. Working part-time, I was too comfortable to put my passion and my business first, to ultimately take it seriously. I never wanted to let my boss or colleagues down to try and grow my own career.

 

So it was in 2017…

 

That my partner and I approached our boss of the retail store we both worked at. We each handed in a letter of resignation, informing him that we were both leaving in two months on a one way ticket to Europe. He didn’t see it coming, both of us were so comfortable and proficient in our roles. It was certainly an unusual move for me. I had never ‘quit’ a job and gone into the ‘unknown’ before. My particular role was one that wouldn’t be waiting for me when I returned. I wouldn’t be able to just slot back into the same retail environment.

We spent five months overseas, exploring Europe, the UK, and a touch of the Middle East. We stayed in Airbnbs, picking small places off the map and along train lines. Mostly, we walked down side streets, visited small cafes, and spent hours in supermarkets, avoiding main tourist settings and crowds. It was the first time in my adult life that I didn’t have anything tying me down. I didn’t have a pressing feeling of all the work I would need to catch up on when I returned to my day job. I didn’t have four emails a day coming in from my boss. I didn’t have colleagues calling me asking me questions on my days off.

 

Travel inspired me to want more…

 

And to search for a career that I would want to go back to. That career was photography. I was photographing the entire trip of course. I had been photographing since I received my first camera at ten years old. I had a degree, I had the passion and I had the drive. There was nothing stopping me, no excuses that I could make or tell myself.

Overseas, I had spent my down time setting up a new website, creating ideas for packages, and writing copy. When we were finally home in the start of January, I got to work finalising all the details and working on my studio. I started advertising within two weeks of being back in the heat of Australian summer. I was full of fire from the trip and I was searching for a meaningful life in Melbourne – to have a career and business I was passionate about.

I can say that buying that one way ticket, quitting my job, and taking a risk inspired me to start taking my business seriously.

My travels influenced my work with the colour, vibrancy and textures that I was attracted to photographing overseas. The colours of the houses in Italy, the textures of Israel, the mixture of nature and urban in Cyprus, and the clean modernism of Germany. I immersed myself in cultures and languages, witnessed and became a part of different ways of living. My mind was broadened in ways that help me connect and empathise with my clients.

I have heard so many people in their twenties talk about their trips to Europe – on Contiki tours, sleepless nights bar hopping in Mykonos, seeing world famous DJs, getting spontaneous tattoos. My trip never fit into these stories and I didn’t have anything particularly wild to tell. I think this bored most of my friends, but I never felt dissatisfied with the way I decided to travel. Most people feel that travelling changed their life. Travel did change my life. I stepped out of my comfort zone and bought a one way ticket to Europe, and came home inspired to start my business.

Julia Nance

Julia Nance is a headshot and portrait photographer, based in Melbourne, Australia. Her vibrant creativity is inspired by her experiences: from photographing whales and seals underwater, to travelling across Europe and the UK. With a vast background in a range of photographic areas, it is Julia’s natural ability to connect with her subjects that ultimately drew her to the art of portraiture.

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