Engineer to Artist
I’m a software engineer, I’ve always been good with numbers especially at school, and never paid much attention to art classes: so little attention that my Art teachers kept telling me that I couldn’t draw if my live depended on it.
I used to make videogames: I worked on big blockbuster titles such as Black & White 2, Fable 2 and Crysis 2, working long hours into the night as a Real-time Rendering Engineer.
Pixels, the small picture elements that form an image, were, for me, the results of various kinds of lighting equations, my job was to craft those lighting equations.
In 2005, I was in England, working again late at night in company of Kareem. Kareem is an incredibly talented artist from Egypt, who later co-founded Media Molecule, a successful game company.
I was mesmerized by what Kareem could draw. That night I asked him to show me how he was using Photoshop, because I couldn’t draw if my life depended on it.
Kareem smiled at me and replied: “Nonsense! You come from the same country as Michelangelo, you can draw, you only need to learn how.”.
Fast forward few years to 2008, while working on another game, I bought a reflex camera, a Sony A200, to take pictures of trees as reference for a foliage lighting equation I was working on.
The technology behind Digital photography is surprisingly similar to the technology behind Real-Time Rendering: photography concepts translated very easily to concepts I was already familiar with.
The basic technique of photography was relatively easy to master.
I was voraciously reading about photography, while working, and practicing it every spare moment I had. Carrying my camera everywhere I was going.
In my quest for improvement, I bought a tripod, sat on the beach in Brighton and waited for sunset.
I captured this image, "Brighton Pier".
For the first time I felt a unique feeling of brief joy, a breathless moment of contemplation followed by a deep breath, in front of something I produced that I was proud of.
The next ten years have been a journey to recreate the same feeling of brief joy and contemplation as often as I can.
I still have difficulties calling myself an artist, I remember my art teachers telling me that I couldn’t draw.
I feel I have to work twice as hard to bridge the gap between me and the Masters of Photography I admire.
I keep studying and practicing the Art of Photography, because, when all is said and done, my ultimate goal is to share that feeling of brief joy with YOU, who believe that even an engineer can turn into an artist.
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