Philly, PA

At the beginning of the year (pre-COVID) I had planned a whirlwind trip to visit Philly, Jersey City, and NYC within five days. A friend of mine Sara needed some help shooting a project, and I had decided to make a mini vacation/road trip out of it. I started my trip in Philly as I had never been before, and although January isn't really the greatest time to visit I really enjoyed the city. I stayed in Fishtown and squeezed as much as possible into what was just about 24 hours that I spent there.


The Airbnb I stayed in was absolutely incredible; it's pretty much my dream living space. The owner designed a studio that fit every aspect of their lifestyle, including a great workspace for their photography, a small workshop area, and two loft spaces. Not to mention the amount of plants they have managed to take care of in the space; it's truly impressive. The space is in an old industrial mill building and I think about it often. SERIOUS life goals.

Here's a little tour:


The living area is the coziest spot in this Airbnb. There's not a ton of natural light coming into the space, but the owner has made it very inviting by incorporating lots of mood lighting via grow lights and a collection of custom pendants. Something I really love about it is that there's no TV, allowing you to fully appreciate your stay (with guests if you have them) and relax in the space. There are board games and bluetooth speakers for music, a very relaxing tub as well as a small outdoor space on the roof to enjoy. There's also just SO much to absorb in this Airbnb (in a good way!) it felt nice to be present while I was staying there. Not having a TV was a choice I decided to make when I moved to Boston and I've never regretted it, it makes me feel a lot more connected to my home.


I love how many personal touches the owner was able to put in this space. From the fun disco ball/wagon wheel chandelier they created to the wood walls and sprawling plant life that adds warmth to the space, this home is truly one of the most unique spaces I've stayed in. I spent most of my time relaxing on the large, cozy couch here.



Needless to say, the kitchen is incredible. I love all the hanging plants and the custom cinefoil light fixture the owner created. (There are multiple photography-related touches added to this space that I really appreciate.) The black cabinets paired with the white brick is the perfect minimal touch amidst the wonderful chaos of the plant life. There aren't a lot of frills to the kitchen area where they don't need to be, there's plenty of space to work and as much character as you could possibly squeeze into it. I've taken so much inspiration for my home from staying here.



Just want to point out that putting a hammock in your workspace is a power move. I really admire how versatile this studio is, and how the owner was able to design and dedicate multiple workspaces for each craft.




I love this loft space they created for their bed! It keeps the space clean and although the whole studio is an open floor plan, it keeps it from feeling as though you're staying in someone's room. The second guest bed is also in a raised loft above the entryway. Not pictured is the giant shower/tub situation with heat lamps. I spent a good amount of time there during my stay.




This has to be my favorite part of the space. I love how the owner created these two guest sleeping areas. The ladder on the left goes up to a loft space with a bed, and the second bed can be broken down and doubles as a photo studio bay. Tucked behind that is also a small workshop where the owner works on his motorcycle. I'm so inspired by the use of space here and can only dream of having a studio like this. There's also a cute little outdoor patio on the roof!



Although I wasn't in Philly for very long I made the most of it by walking around Fishtown going record shopping, thrifting for clothes and decor, and taking photos. I even squeezed in going to see The Adicts at TLA before hitting the road to Jersey City! Super fun show.



From there I stayed with my friend Sara in Jersey City for a couple days shooting a freelance project. The days were pretty jam packed so I didn't get the opportunity to take many photos with my DSLR, but here are a couple shots I got from my phone.


Jersey City wasn't all work; we were able to fit in a conceptual still life shoot as well! We worked together on the idea for a few weeks leading up to my visit, collected props, spent a night crafting and making a fun mess creating goop and "sculptable fabric" and color stories for our concept we call Space Waste. I had always wanted to do a shoot that was very abstract and we had so much fun creating these pieces.

You can see the full series here!



Last but not least, I made a small stop in NYC for the afternoon on the way home. I hadn't made a trip there since I was in college and to be honest, NYC isn't my favorite. I will say though, revisiting it and spending the day record shopping at incredible boutiques recommended to me by a friend did change my opinion a little bit. It ain't all that bad.


This trip was kind of crazy and I was completely exhausted by the end of it. It was so great to spend time in three different cities I had never fully experienced before! I'll definitely be planning another proper trip back to Philly (and even NYC) when it's safe to do so!


© ALLISON SEPANEK PHOTOGRAPHY