Say Cheese—Meet Our Team of Photography Enthusiasts
To be happy and effective at work, you have to take a deep breath during your free time and find an activity that gives you joy. If you haven’t already found something to let out some steam or get in touch with your creative side, we believe autumn is the perfect season to take up a new hobby—like music, fitness, or photography. Find something you enjoy and make the most of it. And if you’re looking for some inspiration—we’ve got plenty of that.
Meet nine TestDevLab employees and learn more about their passion for photography. Find out how they first got into photography, how their hobby developed, what inspires them, and what advice they would give to people looking to get started.
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An astronaut in the photography universe
QA Engineer Ingus Pugačovs has been taking breathtaking photos for 8 years now after being inspired by the childhood memory of his parents’ film camera.
Photography is like stepping into the unknown, a galaxy where you can expect a new experience with each step.
The most inspiring thing about photography for me is the opportunity to constantly learn new things and experience them differently. Also, the development of a creative mindset because everything that comes to your mind can be made as a picture.
If I could choose a specific scenery for photography, it would be a sunrise near water, when there is a fog with some trees around. My favorite time of the year for photography is August, as that is when there are the most foggy mornings. You can wake up and go to a swamp somewhere and see how everything wakes up in the forest. All is quiet, just some bird noises and some freshly spun spiderwebs with some raindrops on it.
Check out this video from Ingus from one such morning:
The dark knight
Ibrahim Altay is a Test Automation Engineer at TestDevLab, passionate about testing and obsessed with dark and crowded city views. You might think—is he capturing such dramatic views to scare away the bugs? Well, yes and no. He is a photographer with 5 years of experience under his belt.
I started my hobby while I was in university. I bought a used Nikon DSLR camera and got basic photography training by joining the photography community at university. I love taking long-exposure shots in crowded cities. I prefer cloudy weather, dark skies and a lot of city lights. I believe that every city looks somewhat similar during the day but a lot more unique during the evening. When the sky is dark and the city is crowded, I can add a lot of details, city lights, and iconic scenery to my pictures.
Stranger in the streets
Vladislav Germanovičs, another QA Engineer in our team, calls himself a ‘street photography enthusiast’. Just look at his spontaneous photos capturing the raw beauty of life. You can feel the emotion and relive each moment captured in the photos. How does Vladislav describe his journey into photography?
My first steps into photography started about 10 years ago. Like everyone else, I started with some random and over-edited photos, but over time I began to pay more attention to composition, natural editing, and basic technical stuff.
More than anything, I enjoy capturing strangers and everyday life in the streets and public places because human nature inspires me a lot. Good lighting is a huge part of photography, so most of my favorite photos were taken in the summer season at golden hours.
Northern Lights chaser
Katrin Kello, a QA Engineer from Estonia, started doing photography about 10 years ago when she joined a nature hobby class. She had a chance to take photos of the class’s trips and just like that fell in love with photography.
I've experimented with everything from nature and city photography to drone and underwater photography. I always get new ideas about how and what to shoot next. My favorite time of the year for photography is when the Northern Lights are visible, starting early autumn and ending mid-spring. The best place to enjoy the views is outside the city, far from the city lights, preferably near a field or a lake with a clear view of the starry sky to best enjoy the wonders of the different colors of the Northern Lights.
Aiva Grasberga, an HR Specialist at TestDevLab, was drawn to creative things from a young age—writing, drawing and, of course, photography.
I have ventured from Nikon to Canon to mirrorless Fujis and even iPhone photography (yes that counts too). In between I have worked with various formats from crop to medium, including older Mamiya film cameras and newer Phase Ones. Your camera does and doesn't matter, it depends on what you want to achieve and when.
I am drawn to dramatic, powerful photographs and I love creating both images of natural light and candid moments, as well as moody, cinematic imagery. Color is one of the most important aspects in my work, it's a huge vehicle for controlling motion, mood, and tone in the images. I am a fan of portrait photography, but have also been drawn to still life, street photography, documentary style and even astrophotography. My favorite thing about photography is probably the sense of achievement of creating something really cool.
A man of many scenes
Artūrs Miķelsons might be called a genre juggler when it comes to photography. His romance with photography started when he first used a DSLR camera at a friend’s place. It was love at first sight. After saving up enough money to get the camera he wanted, Artūrs now enjoys his hobby by switching different genres of photography and thus keeping it fresh all the time.
Real-estate photography was very technical, slow, and surgical in its nature. Events on the other hand were fast-paced, requiring high energy output and cranking my fake-extrovert personality up to 110%. Portraits, which were and are my personal favorite genre, were more intimate, emotional, and gratifying in their nature.
The people and emotions I get to capture inspire me the most about photography. It's a vulnerable position, being photographed, so having the person I'm photographing open up and allow me to look into them, is honoring and I'm truly grateful for each and every person who has trusted themselves to me. Showing people who are doubtful about their beauty how magnificent they are is exceptionally gratifying.
Taste of old-fashioned elegance
Nikita Niks Daņilovs is a true fan of film photography—a type of photography that is done with an analog camera that uses film. You know, a friend's hobbies are infectious, so following his roommate's example, Nikita got his own camera and started a new hobby several years ago.
I don’t think that I have a specific scene that I enjoy photographing more than others. However, I do have a few favorite photos and they tend to have people in them and most are shot in nature.
After watching Minamata, I was shocked by some of the work that W. Eugene Smith created—I got inspired. Other than that I would say I find inspiration in the work of my friends and posts on Instagram, which make me wanna grab a camera and start shooting.
Capturing everyday moments
Agnese Gurecka got her first film camera when she was in primary school but it wasn’t until she reached high school and got her first digital camera that photography became a hobby. Ever since then, Agnese has been taking amazing photos of everyday scenes all year round.
As a city girl, I do a lot of street photography, but I also love taking photos of nature and small critters doing their thing, not knowing or caring that I’m watching.
My inspiration generally comes to me in two forms. I either get a general urge to create, where I just have to get up and make something, figuring it out along the way. Or I could be walking on the street and I just see it—things have aligned themselves in perfect composition and I just have to take the shot.
Fewer lights, more emotions
Evita Broka discovered her passion for photography when her sister gave her an film camera to try.
Since I am very impatient and could never wait for the photos to be developed I realized it was time to buy my own camera. Although shooting on film is very interesting, I wanted a digital camera so I got one. I have had my camera for two years now and enjoy taking photos with it.
It’s amazing how one single photograph can tell a story and trigger so many different emotions. I really enjoy taking photos of people as well as photos of cities, busy streets, and tall buildings. Also, I like photographing during blue hour and taking photos that include neon lights. My favorite season for photography would be summer because my fingers don’t get cold.
What advice would you give to those who want to take up photography as a hobby?
You don't need to invest a lot of resources to do photography. It is more about creativity, trial and error, and effort rather than buying expensive equipment or fancy stage lights.
Feel it, explore it, and most importantly, do it for yourself. If you are doing it for yourself, you will find it more rewarding because you will probably find your unique style and you will show your personality through your photos. Try multiple things, explore and find what you like the most.
Enjoy taking photos, don’t compare yourself to other artists and develop your own style!
Don’t overthink it, just do it. You don’t need an expensive camera to start out with digital photography, and even for film, you can find an affordable single use camera to dip your toes in the process.
The Internet is your best friend. Research everything. Watch tutorials. Learn Photoshop and other retouching tools. Far too often I see so many beginner images suffer from the lack of editing. Photoshop is not a tool to make your pictures look fake, but rather a tool to take them to the next level, you just have to learn how and master the art of subtlety.
Take any device that has a camera and start to shoot. Just look around and pay attention to details. Film photography is also a very good practice for beginners as you can't see the instant result, and that makes you appreciate every shot even more.
Get yourself a film camera from eBay, they tend to be quite cheap nowadays and buy a few rolls of film. Experiment with the settings, try out different locations, and have a feel for how lighting affects your shot.
—Ņikita Niks Daņilovs
Be ready and willing to feel uncomfortable. If you stay within your comfort zone, you will not get the shot you want! Also, start simple! Buy a cheap, used DSLR camera and a cheap and fast (f/1.8) 50mm lens (the basic one or even a knock-off). That setup is able to do sooo much more than you could ever imagine!
Don't worry about the gear you have, you do not need a 2000€ camera, fancy lenses, drones, or the latest phone. What matters the most is how YOU capture the world and how you tell the story to others.
Follow in the footsteps of our truly amazing colleagues and don’t be afraid to try something new. Maybe photography will be your new hobby?
Even if you don’t have a professional camera, don’t really know much about photo editing, or don’t quite understand photography terminology—it doesn’t matter as long as you are keen and get a happiness boost while doing it.
Are you passionate about software quality assurance—and maybe even share the same interests as our team? Join us! Check out our open positions.