I became interested in photography because I was constantly looking for new ways of expressing myself. It all happened suddenly when I took my father’s old camera (Analog Praktica) on holiday to the mountains. I shot 6 rolls of film there, from which only 1 came out more-or-less good. This was my boost. I really liked taking photos, but I failed – I knew that I had to get better at this and learn as much as possible about the technical and artistic aspects of photography. The progress was very rapid, which encouraged me to put most of my energy into this new hobby. Thus, photography took the first place in my life.
My name is Arkadiusz Jankowski, I come from Poland, and I’m 34 years old. I’m a software developer and electrical engineer specializing in embedded systems in the automotive industry. Beside my engineering job, I also work as an advertising photographer and I own a photographic and film studio in Warsaw.
During my studies, I did a full 5-year course of robotics, control of industrial processes, and information technology in my hometown – Łódź – in Poland. After my 2nd year of studies, I got an internship at Siemens in Regensburg, Germany where I had an opportunity to take my first steps into software development, microcontrollers, etc. I found it very interesting – just before my final year of studies in Poland, I decided to move abroad to Berlin to attend an Erasmus program which offered some new programming opportunities for me. There, I majored in applied computer sciences and microelectronics. After graduation, I started to look for a full-time job as an embedded software developer and was lucky enough to land a job at Continental in Nuremberg in Germany, and I started my professional career in the industry. I was responsible for software in automatic transmission electronic control units in Mercedes/AMG cars for 2.5 years – since the last 4 years, I have been working as a senior software engineer and a team leader in Warsaw in Poland at Impact Clean Power Technology, which produces low and high voltage batteries and battery management systems for public transportation and the energy sector.
I have been living in Warsaw for over 6 years now. I moved here because of my photographic career. Warsaw is the capital of Poland and has the best options for emerging artists who want to work in the local creative industry. After moving to Poland from Germany, I worked for 2 years as a full-time freelance photographer – however, I decided to go back to my engineering job and combine both careers at the same time.
I started my photographic career with extreme sports photography. I was a part of this subculture as a teenager, so it was an easy start and I could blend right into it. Now, I specialize mostly in advertising photography. I’m an engineer, so I love all the technical stuff behind it. In my commercial work, I like to take crystal clear and vivid images with good composition and minimalistic mood. Besides commercial work, I also do fashion photography for magazines, and I love to portrait people. In my free time, I like to capture nature, empty spaces, architecture, and minimalism.
There are a lot of photographers whose work I admire: Nick Knight, Annie Leibovitz, David Bellemere, Joey L, and so on. I also like to stay up to date with the newest campaigns and fashion/lifestyle editorials from magazines like Vogue, Numero, L’Officiell, WAD, etc. However, I’ve been doing photography seriously for around 10 years now, so I really try to find my inspiration elsewhere rather than in other photographers’ work.
I own a Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon L lenses, which is my personal all-around gear that I use during most of the jobs. However, during bigger assignments when a real quality is desired, I work with medium-format-cameras like Phase One or Hasselblad that can deliver 80-120 Megapixel images. These cameras are very expensive, so photographers rent them from rental houses – they are a standard in the industry.
I’m a commercial photographer, so post-production of images is a standard procedure for me. For the last couple of years, I always shoot with my Macbook Pro connected to my camera, where I have an instant preview of the photos – I can make fine adjustments to the RAW files on the go. I use CaputeOne for RAW development and Photoshop for editing. It’s a part of the process for every single image that I take. Very often, advertising images consist of multiple frames with different lighting setups and set designs – these have to be combined together in the computer after the photo-shoot. So when doing such an assignment, I have to know exactly how to take the image – from a technical point of view – so the appropriate editing will be possible later on. It’s a very different and much more complex approach than portrait, fashion, or reportage photography, where you usually get a final result in just one photo.
I run a website called Arkadiusz Jankowski Photography (http://www.arkadiuszjankowski.com/). My first website came online around 2005. A friend who played with me in a band helped me to create it. In the beginning, I was only posting sports photos and portraits of my friends so that they could have easy access to all of the images that we took. Later on, when my photographic adventure evolved into a more advertising/fashion-oriented style, I’ve changed the content and started posting more commercial stuff. The actual revision of the website is the 5th one and it showcases my recent portfolio.
As a commercial photographer, my website and my portfolio are crucial marketing tools that I use in my job on a daily basis. Around 50% of my new clients find me through my web-page – if they like the photos, they can book me for a job. So on my website, above all, I try to capture and present my personal style of work. I’m a minimalist with a very clean and sharp aesthetic. All of the photos there, although they present different things (advertising campaigns, portraits, fashion, still life, personal stuff), have to follow this mood. It’s very important to present work that is coherent so that the viewer knows who you are and can decide if you are the right person for the job.
I started to run my first photographic and film studio in 2016. At this point in time, I had a lot of assignments, so the studio was dedicated to my personal work most of the time. Also, it was located just outside Warsaw, which wasn’t very convenient for rental purposes. From a business perspective, even with a lot of personal work, having a studio with around 170 square metres was pretty expensive to maintain. That’s why I started to look for a way to minimize these costs. I found that the major reason why it was not attractive to other people in the industry was its location and the interior space itself. After nearly 2 years of working there, I found a new, perfect location for my studio.
The new premises was a dilapidated, old factory loft. It was kept in very bad shape for many years, but it had huge potential. It took me 4 or 5 months to renovate the place and pull the best out of it. I put all of my heart into this project, but I would never manage to finish the work if I didn’t receive great support and help from my awesome wife and friends. After the grand opening, the idea of a new, better studio paid off and business grew fast. Now, the studio works mostly as a rental space for other photographers, filming crews, and hosting events. The space has nearly 200 square metres, is very bright, open, has amazing one-of-a-kind skylights, and huge windows. This enables a lot of natural light to come in, which provides a great energy during work. I love to be there, but due to the amount of work that I have and my engineering job, I had to employ 3 people who run the studio on a daily basis (you can check out more about it at www.studioaligator.pl).
I have a couple of favourite photos that I’ve shot through the years, but I’m a perfectionist so I’m very critical about my work and I always look for improvement. I think that a true artist will never be 100% satisfied with their work. The road to the perfect picture keeps every photographer going and allows for constant development.
I have a few future goals with my photography. After a couple of very intensive years when I was working only as a photographer, and then both as an engineer and photographer struggling to maintain my own studio, my life is slowly getting steadier. All the lessons that I’ve learned are paying off, so I hope that I will finally be able to find my balance in life. I would love to expand and develop my photographic career more, but due to the number of things that I now have to do on a regular basis, I’m not able to focus on that at the moment. The future goals are to further develop my studio or turn it into a chain of rental studios so I could employ more people and focus on photography again. After that, I would like to realize some of my personal projects and maybe turn them into an exhibition.
I see a lot of similarities between photography and my tech career. To begin with, I have to mention my master thesis, which was dedicated to software that analysed the quality of micro-electronic chips. This was done through images of chips taken by a CCD sensor and a microscope. During my work on this thesis, I had to investigate all of the physical phenomena that are also present in normal photography. This was an incredible experience and gave me a totally new perspective on photography. I’m fascinated by the technical aspects of photography, lighting, and digital processing. I think that with an engineering background, I can understand them better.
As for my present work, there are also some similarities. For example, as a team leader and senior software developer, I work a lot with other people in interdisciplinary teams and I manage the requirements of the clients. The same applies to my photographic job. During a photoshoot, I have to manage a lot of people: models, set designers, assistants, art directors, make-up artists, and clients. Most of the time, I need to work within a brief provided by a client or art director, so I have to be very flexible and know how to convince people with my ideas in a simple and logical way.
The examples that I gave above work both ways – thus, I think that being a photographer makes me a better engineer. I think that these two activities complement each other pretty well. Overall, I have wider horizons and I can do analogical tasks in two very different environments. I test myself a lot and I always try to learn new things. Such opportunities are always a great thing and can do only good.
The first and major piece of advice I would give to aspiring photographers is to take as many photos as possible. This way, you can make mistakes and learn from them, which is the best way for gradual progress. A good approach is to study photos of famous photographers and try to capture your shots in a similar way. This helps to master the technique, composition, and post-processing. After that, the rest is about being open-minded and trying to find your style. Photography is like engineering – there are so many various things that you can explore and themes that you can cover; only by experimenting will you be able to find your own place in this field.
I think that there is always much more than tech. Sharing your passion with people around you and with the industry is important. It can inspire others to try new things and discover something that they might like. Having a serious hobby or a second job that you really love to do after your business hours is not only fulfilling, but it will make you a better person on many different levels. That being said, I wish everyone a lot of success and satisfaction with their hobbies and work.
To read some more about Arkadiusz, including his clients, awards, and exhibitions, be sure to check the following link: