Let’s go back to 1993. I’m at the end of the fourth year of high school. Graduation. English, Slovak, German and economics.
I’m not yet of legal age, as I’m celebrating my birthday in August. My dream at that time was to get to America – no matter what. As for the future, I planned to deal with it when the moment came.
It was a big surprise and challenge for me to be invited to Canada by my extended family, who had lived there since 1968. My plan was to leave Slovakia for at least a year. So, no “uni”, I had only a flight ticket and high hopes ahead. I celebrated my eighteenth birthday in Canada.
As it was expected, I didn’t make a career in Canada nor did I travel to America. After a few months I was fed up with travel, adventure and doing nothing. I wanted to study or work, so I returned home which wasn’t at all according to my plan. The moment came and I organized my plans very quickly 🙂
Eighteen-year-old with a high school education, without further studies, I found myself in Bratislava and thought about what to do next.
In high school, I had a favorite bar where we went with friends – I went there to ask for work – any kind of job. The owner of the bar offered me a job as a waitress in a new business. I accepted it and I even have to admit that I was excited about it at the time. Since the company was not officially opened, it would after 3 months, I temporarily worked in a souvenir shop.
After 3 months, my “career” began at the bar working shifts, including the night one. I became financially independent, but after a few months my enthusiasm faded. Something completely different happened to my dream. I had a friend who worked at a casino and I saw his life as a „paid vacation”. So, I aimed all my ambitions in this direction.
One evening I got a phone call from my friend. We had worked together for a while in the souvenir shop and now he was recruiting to work in the casino. I didn’t hesitate for a moment and I took part in the thrilling selection process. As the Austrian company was going to open a new subsidiary in our country, the interview took place in German with Austrian representatives.
There were over 200 applicants, and 80 people were selected for the three-month intensive training course.
Every day we went to an 8-hour session where we were divided into English and German speaking groups because we were trained by 2 women – English Kate and Austrian (whose name, unfortunately, I don’t remember).
We gradually learned the rules of American roulette, blackjack and poker. My daily activities were counting bets, memorizing extended multiplication tables and learning various methods related to gambling. They selected 25 of us from this course and divided us into internships in Piešťany and Košice, where operations were already open at that time. I went to Košice for a month. In April 1994, the largest Slovak casino opened in Bratislava’s Reduta and I started working permanently there.
I was really grateful for this job. In addition to being fun and looking forward to work, I also had lucrative opportunities to work abroad, on cruise ships and other interesting places. I don’t think the exceptionality of the 90’s in the field of gambling will return, but at that time it was really satisfying to work in a casino in several ways. Except for one detail – I gradually realized this after years. It was not possible to move forward in the corporate ladder, only in the casino floor because I lacked the necessary education.
In 2001, I started studying full-time at the Faculty of Philosophy, at Comenius University. Since I was on maternity leave, from the beginning I combined my maternity duties with full-time study. Later I added a job to the mix. I tried to adapt my shifts in the casino to my studies and daughter. Fortunately, my mom helped me a lot. At that time, it was common for me to sleep for barely 3 hours. But these were wonderful years during which I was not bored for a minute.
First managerial position
In 2005, just before graduating from school, I received an offer from the CEO of the casino to manage the company’s marketing department. At that time, we had 6 establishments throughout Slovakia. It was a big challenge for me, an amazing experience, a job in which I finally used my own potential in terms of ideas and creativity. It all greatly contributed to my professional development. In addition to this work, I used external photographers for various campaigns. Thanks to such experiences, I learned skills that I could use in my own photography practice. I worked here until 2015.
After going for second maternity leave, I was long haunted by the idea of learning to take pictures. Not only because of marketing campaigns, but above all – I longed for beautiful photos of my children as my friends Lucka and Sandra took. I had some money saved, so I asked Lucia if she could advise me what camera to buy and I also asked her to give me a photography course. We agreed to barter so we both benefited from it. I couldn’t have had a better teacher! In the evenings I went to her flat, she taught me to retouch, or we ran to the bridge and took pictures of Bratislava at night. I learned everything I needed to know to set up the camera, take pictures correctly, and edit photos to get satisfying results.
My first photos of my children caused my friends to start calling me to see if I would take any photos of their children as well. Later, when also acquaintances started calling me, I began thinking about providing photographic services through my own company. In 2015 I founded JAMIS PHOTO LLC.
Later, when I returned to work in marketing, photography became an integral part of my work. This is still true today. Knowing how to make high quality photos is a huge plus in marketing.
So! No, I was not born “with a camera in my hand” like many professional photographers, to me being a photographer happened gradually 🙂