My Work

Astrid wrote about her freelancing work today and said, I should do the same. So here we go.

Getting back to work

What do I do? I’m a software developer. I usually start with nothing, I write code, and will eventually create something that will (hopefully) satisfy my customer’s needs. I work on a Mac all day, mostly using nothing but a text editor to get my work done.

After I finished uni in 2003 I pretty much jumped right into a full-time job as an employee. Not knowing anything else it felt like the way to go. I studied computer science, and even during the studies I had several jobs. Among them were teaching younger students, doing a free internship at a web agency, working part-time for another web agency, and working as an administrator for a big financial internet service provider.

I went straight into being a junior in a company doing product development, and over the course of three years went to being project manager for one of the teams.

But I grew tired of it. Heading into the office, working on the same stuff with the same people (of course some of them were awesome) every day, that just couldn’t be it for the rest of my life.

We also had a few freelancers on our team. They were among the most skilled people on the team. I’m not saying I’m highly skilled or anything, I just liked the way they worked. I thought about leaving the company on several occasions, but only on the third one did I go through with it. Quitting that job has been the happiest moment of my life.

I went straight into freelancing, and found work right away. That was in 2006. From then on, I’ve worked with many people on many projects in different companies. Sometimes I worked on-site (which is pretty common in Germany), sometimes I could work from my office. I worked for as long as 15 months on a project, or just two weeks, it pretty much depends on what the client wants and needs. Either way, it is always an interesting experience.

Berlin is a great ground for freelancing in my field. When I finished uni it was nothing like that (given the recent dotcom bubble burst), but being a rather cheap city to live in, I counted on the fact that a lot of smaller companies will set up camp as soon as the next boom in the web would arrive. Thank goodness I was right.

With a great network and just getting your name out there, people tend to contact you, or fellow freelancers recommend you, so I don’t spend a lot of time actively looking for projects.

I spend a lot of my free time working on open source projects, projects freely available for everyone to use. I can improve my skills working on them, and I can learn from what solutions other people come up with.

While not every day is as much fun as I’d wish for, going full-time freelancing is still the best decision I’ve made in my life. I have no idea if I’ll still be doing this in ten years, but then I again, I don’t usually plan more than a few months ahead. I love the feeling of not knowing what I’ll be doing in three months, even if it means not knowing where the next payment comes from. I stopped thinking too much about that, because it takes up too much energy when you’re constantly worried about the next paycheck. Sooner or later something comes up. If not, there’s always something to spend my time on.

I love being able to work where I want, when I want, and with/for who I want. I can choose the tools I use, and the way I get the job done. All that make freelancing the most fun for me. I still enjoy what I do, and I enjoy learning something new every day. Because if I didn’t I would become obsolete within a few years.

Wake-Up Light

The thing that bugs me the most about winter is the fact that it’s still dark out when our alarm goes off. It just recently occurred to me that what the solution could be. The answer to darkness? Of course, it’s sunlight. Now, it won’t just magically come earlier, right when I need it, so why not help nature.

A friend pointed me to the so called Wake-Up Light by Philips.

skitched-20090127-203047.jpg

Now, they don’t look really, really pretty, but the idea of being woken up by some sort of sunrise and some naturey crap music sure does appeal.

I ordered one today, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Local

Since last week I’ve been working in my shared office exclusively, and I’m really enjoying it. The weird part about it is that I finally get a taste of all the food places in our neighborhood. We have quite a lot of places to eat around here (no decent Indian though, but then again, there’s no decent Indian anywhere in Berlin), but as it is, J and me, we have our favorite places, and we usually go there.

Burgeramt

Without me really noticing it, three places that offer burgers opened in a 500 meter radius. So weird, but the good news is that their burgers are top notch. The picture above was just taken today at the Burgeramt (a German word-play), one that coincidentally opened right below our old apartment. There used to be a Lebanese pizza place (I know), and it always smelled garlic-y when we were out on our balcony. Kinda gross, but we moved out not too long after. The Burgeramt is a decent successor, and it was about time I went there.

Weirdly enough, I also don’t know anything about good coffee shops in our area. I usually make my own latte, or have a coffee at the cupcake shop. But I have yet to find a decent one. High standards are to be met.

In some totally unrelated news, one of my Polaroids will be part of a not card set published by Chronicle Books. It’s all thanks to the most awesome Jen Altman of course.

A Walk On The Dyke

I went on a trip to the North Sea last weekend, the guys from my office invited me, so I tagged along. The goal was to collect ideas about where their business should head in 2009, but of course I was also armed with cameras and heaps of film.

After 5.5 hours on the road we finally got there on Friday night, and had just time to settle in in front of the fireplace, and to make risotto of course.

The next day started early for me. Well, early for a weekend. I wanted to go and buy some groceries, so I set the alarm for 8:45. I got up, and when I looked out the window I saw red streaks on the clouds, so I ran and packed all of my gear. I came out just in time to see the golden light of the sunrise. So pretty.

Thursday Naturey Crap

I shot one roll just like that with the Holga. I armed myself with 800 film, since I’ve grown pretty fond of it for the winter time. It works even when the sun is fully out. I walked along the dyke, and there was not a soul around. Actually, it’s a holiday village, so most of the houses were totally empty.

Decisions, decisions...

Now, I can’t really stay in places like this for longer than a few days just doing nothing, but I did enjoy being in a different environment to get some new things in front of my camera.

Saturday was pretty fun, we started the day with presentations of what each of us thinks the company should do. After we were done we went out for a nice walk. The sun was out, and there were four people with cameras. It almost felt like a Flickr walk.

The only thing really worth mentioning in Burhave was their nice and long pier. Now these always make for nice photo shoots. Thankfully there weren’t that many people around, so at one point we had the pier to ourselves.

Cliché Sunset

The holiday apartment had a sauna, so that was a must on Saturday night. Obviously, since the town was far out in the country, there wasn’t much else to do anyway. So we hopped into the sauna, and made pizza afterwards.

It was a full moon night too, so around midnight I went out and tried some long exposures with the Holga, since I just recently bought the remote shutter kit. I’m not a big fan of long exposures per se, but they can be fun from time to time. Of course in this case haunting would be a more fitting description.

The neighbors are gone

I have yet to upload the majority of the shots, but the above should give you an idea. It was a really nice trip, slightly too short, but still, nice to do stuff like this in places other than an office.

The Impossible Project

Well, if this is not awesome news, I don’t know what is. There’s hope for the future of Polaroid integral film!

Supported by Ilford, the Impossible b.v. has bought equipment from Polaroid, has signed a lease agreement over 10 years, put together and expert team and is planning to have new integral films production-ready by the end of 2009.

From their website:

The Impossible mission is NOT to re-build Polaroid Integral film but (with the help of strategic partners) to develop a new product with new characteristics, consisting of new optimised components, produced with a streamlined modern setup. An innovative and fresh analog material, sold under a new brand name that perfectly will match the global re-positioning of Integral Films.

Holy crap! But wait, it’s not a given that they will succeed, so they’re asking for support. So whatever you can offer, head over to their website and let them know!

The Independent is running an article on the project.

Here’s to people caring about Polaroid!