Not Your Typical Pastimes

Adobe employees nurture some fascinating hobbies in their off hours

Maybe it’s Adobe’s focus on creative thinking in all parts of the company. Maybe it’s the idea that companies with cool reputations attract cool employees. Whatever it is, here’s the result: The halls of Adobe offices around the world are filled with some incredibly interesting people.

Their work is only one part of who they are, and the good thing about working at Adobe, they say, is that the company understands this. In fact, the company celebrates the passions and pursuits of its people year-round, with exhibits of employees’ photography, craft fairs featuring items handmade by employees, and a variety of clubs organized around hobbies such as cycling, ping pong, and salsa.

We rounded up a few Adobe employees with fascinating hobbies to share what makes them tick.

Sameer C.
Senior developer

Based in
Sydney

On-the-side hobby
Hang gliding

Flight is the stuff of human dreams, literally and figuratively. And while many of us enjoy air travel pretty regularly, we’re not so much exhilarated by the experience as we are annoyed by all of its hassles.

That’s why Sameer C., a senior developer based in Adobe’s Sydney office, is spending less time on his hobby of flying single-engine propeller planes and focusing instead on a more rustic experience of flight: hang gliding.

“There’s no machine,” Sameer says. “It’s quiet and you’re just floating.”

Sameer had been a fan of aerobatics when he was flying planes. But flying planes is an expensive, time-consuming hobby. It’s far more regulated, and you have to pay for fuel and book time at small airports in advance.

So when he discovered hang gliding, Sameer also got back in touch with his reason for flying in the first place: not to master the natural world as an adrenaline junkie in a complex, manmade machine, but to become more in tune with it—to feel, quite simply, what it is to be a bird.

Once you hang glide, you don’t want to come back down.

“If you’re flying around Australia, there’s nothing between you and the beautiful earth,” Sameer says. “The higher you go, the more secure you feel. It’s peaceful and you’re not afraid of anything. I can’t even describe the feeling.”

Sameer joined Adobe in 2010 and has developed a rhythm to his life that makes it easy to combine work and hobby.

“There are always times when you have things to do at work and you can’t take time off,” Sameer says. “But I have never had a time where I had to really compromise my personal life. I can work from anywhere. I can even work in the evenings and go flying in the mornings.”

Tiffany O.
Web designer

Based in
New York City

On-the-side hobby
Stock car racing

For Tiffany O., a web designer in Adobe’s New York office, it’s hard to remember a time when she wasn’t a gearhead.

My mom tried to get me into horseback riding, and I’d always say it was too slow. I’d jump off and ride away on my bike and say, ‘Mom, I need wheels.’

Later, 14-year-old Tiffany took a trip to Universal Studios and went on the “Back to the Future” ride. Something that might be a fun but faded memory for most grownups still seems fateful to her.

“They had a DeLorean, the car from the movie, and it was love at first sight,” Tiffany says. “I said, ‘Mom, I have to get a DeLorean.’ I had a job and was trying to save money. So when we went to a DeLorean car show when I was 16, she helped me out and I bought a DeLorean as my first car. It’s still a prized possession.”

Tiffany has collected other gems, including a ’67 Firebird, and has even built a few motors herself. But she’s more than just a collector; every weekend, from April to October, she’s stock car racing in her ’85 Monte Carlo at Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey. Tiffany has been racing since 2010 and already has some wins under her belt.

Because Tiffany works in New York City, a mecca of foot traffic and public transportation, she can’t take her cars to work. So the weekends are her time to step into a different world and unwind—making her totally prepared for what awaits at the office.

“If I’m in a stressful project and there’s a lot going on, when the weekend comes I can focus on racing,” Tiffany says. “Nothing else is on my mind. It’s like an escape that keeps me sane. After experiencing the adrenaline of screaming tires and cars rubbing side by side at top speeds, when I get back to the office any client issue is like, ‘Hey, no sweat.’”

Martin B.
Senior manager of partner engagement, Europe

Based in
Paris

On-the-side hobby
Photography

Martin B. joined Adobe in 2000. He had gotten to know the company through working at an Adobe partner in Paris and thought it would be a fun place to work.

“I wanted to work here because of the people and the products themselves,” Martin says. “They were all outstanding.”

Martin had been gradually getting interested in photography since the first digital cameras hit the market, and coming to work at the company that created Photoshop only made his interest grow. He started shooting more and more photos on trips and receiving encouraging feedback. So he got more serious about the craft.

I couldn’t be working at a better place to start learning about photography. My peers at Adobe France helped me understand the software and to learn the craft faster. I also had access to the community of photographers and Adobe users. They know so much about the software and were a great influence on what I learned.

Today, Martin goes shooting nearly every weekend. He takes his gear on trips around the world—Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Australia, Tokyo—and brings home gorgeous landscapes and cityscapes that look every bit the work of a professional.

Best of all, he says, photography gives him a chance to clear his mind—providing that dose of perspective that keeps the rest of his life in balance.

“Getting the best possible image helps me get my mind outside of the daily work I’m doing,” Martin says. “Just to frame up a picture and have it look right takes an amazing amount of time and focus. It helps me pay attention to what is important and to the beautiful aspects of life.”

Angelie H.
Project manager for experience design research

Based in
San Francisco

On-the-side hobby
Makeup artistry

It’s pretty common for teenage girls to get interested in makeup. The allure of transforming and defining the self—right at the time when young people are trying to figure out exactly who they are—is strong. But for Angelie H., a project manager at Adobe in San Francisco, makeup became a fascination when a professional showed her how to see the human face as a canvas and makeup as artistic tools.

“It became this thing I was passionate about,” Angelie says. “Highlights, contour—I started learning the tricks of the trade and, from there, focused my attention to more granular things like pigments and skin tones and face shape and the geometry involved.”

There are so many people who don’t think they’re beautiful, so if I can help them see it, it’s worth it.

Her obsession came in handy during college when she lived in a dormitory full of peers.

“Anytime anybody had a ball or sorority event or any kind of social gathering, I’d do their makeup,” she says. “All the students in the dorm referred to me as the makeup artist on the 6th floor.”

From there, Angelie started booking photo shoots, calendar shoots, and runway shows. Makeup artistry quickly became a way to fund food, rent, and books in college. Today, she still does it for fun and stays on top of industry trends and techniques. She even did makeup and hair for an Adobe video on the company’s vision for the future.

Aside from the fun of playing with color and light, Angelie says what keeps her in love with makeup is its potential to affect people psychologically.

“When I started putting makeup on other people, they would always look at themselves and say, ‘I didn’t know I could look like this,’ whether that meant wearing makeup for the first time or learning that less is more,” Angelie says. “There are so many people who don’t think they’re beautiful, so if I can help them see it, it’s worth it.”