From Albania to Bishop's Cleeve: versatile Aleks is driven to learn

15 September 2017

Aleks Gjika

Aleks Gjika is always fulfilling his passion for learning about new subjects - from computers to photography, languages to psychology.

Originally from Albania, he could already speak English fluently and had successfully completed a Psychology degree from the Open University when he arrived in the UK 17 years ago.

Later, have happily settled down in England, he retrained to learn the computer skills that he is now utilising as a web developer at the Western regional office of Bovis Homes in Bishop's Cleeve.

His broad range of experience doesn't end there: he has also worked as a freelance photographer, another self-taught talent along with DIY and growing his own vegetables.

"For as long as I can remember, I have always been curious to learn new things," said Aleks, who lives in Abbeymead, Gloucester. "I do believe more in hard work than talent.

"If you have the drive, resilience, perseverance and curiosity, anybody can do anything."

Aleks found himself being pulled towards website development while occupying administrative and marketing roles with previous employers.

Seeing how websites could benefit a business and keen to understand how they worked, he decided to embark on a course to gain qualifications from Microsoft in areas such programming and web development.

With those new-found skills, he developed and managed websites and provided IT support - as well as filling a marketing role - for a group of well-known leisure and entertainment organisations in Gloucester.

It was while working there that he decided to learn the photography skills that would lead to him winning competitions, being booked as an expert speaker by photography clubs and recognised by a number of major bodies, notably the French Federation of Photographic Art and the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain.

Aleks had enjoyed taking his own pictures for the organisations' brochures, leaflets and website, but he saw how much more he could learn after seeing a professional in action.

"A photographer from the local newspaper came to take some pictures of an exhibition we were running and when I saw how good they were, I thought, 'Wow, how did he do that?" he said.

"I wanted to be able to do the same, so I started playing around with some photography equipment, signed up to tutorials online and did lots of reading up about it.

"Some of the pictures I took were used for promotional material at work and I also started winning some competitions.

"What do I like to take pictures of? Usually it's about life, the good things, landscapes and interesting people, because my interest is in fun things.

"Most "subjects" have a pictorial element in them - that is what I try to spot and capture.

"Ultimately it's not easy to see a good picture. You look at something and think, 'Where is the picture?', and you have to find it, to hunt it, and you have to have eye for seeing things that are interesting.

"You have to get the right timing, to understand the light, especially with nature photography.

"You have to get up early in the morning and go up into the hills and the mountains, which I like because it takes me out. A camera is a bit like a dog in that sense!"

Aleks sees lots of similarities between his full-time job as a web developer with Bovis Homes and taking photographs in his spare time.

He explained how designing one of the pages on the Bovis Homes website was in some ways very much like capturing and processing a prize-winning picture.

"As a web developer you are creating something to serve a purpose," said Aleks.

"There are two main aspects to it: the functionality, which is about using technology in a way that enables the users to interact with the website and provide them what they are looking for in the most efficient way. The other part of the job is how you present it and how people see it.

"You want to give people what they expect and you have to lead them to the right information so they can dig deeper and find what they want, and you have to do that in a way that is meaningful, aesthetic and professional.

"That requires a certain understanding of design, colour, composition, just like taking a picture.

"Everything I put in a picture is calculated, it's there for a reason, or otherwise it wouldn't be there.
 
"It's the same with a whole web page. It's a composition and everything there has to fit. It's not always easy, because new problems often crop up, but I've always enjoyed learning."

For a selection of Aleks' photographs, visit www.aleksgjika.photography.