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Meet VirtaMed: “I can combine journalism with marketing because I agree with the company’s goals”

January 30, 2018
Our Visual Communications Specialist, Ave-Lii Idavain, first picked up a camera to make sure no fleeting moment in life is forgotten; now the science journalist in her wants to translate technology into visual stories that both doctors and patients can relate to.

Ever since Ave was a baby, her mother has been filling family albums with memories of festivities as well as everyday life in Estonia. Ave inherited this love for capturing the moment and started taking her own photos early on with cheap point-and-shoot cameras; at the age of thirteen, Ave was able to afford her very first video camera after having cleaned her home village’s library every Sunday for an entire year.

It turned out life is full of moments to capture: from high school years alone, Ave has hundreds of videotapes meticulously catalogued by date filmed, people featured, and events depicted. After graduation, Ave first wandered into London to look for a job; she then hitchhiked to Spain and lived there for a year. Eventually Ave moved to Switzerland to hike through the country. She always brought her camera along, and now Ave has her world saved on endless memory cards and hard drives.

“A good photo transmits the emotion”

What started as a faithful act of documenting reality has turned into an esthetic representation of the same. Ave still doesn’t edit her photos apart from light retouching—authenticity is important to her—but she does want her pictures to deliver the same atmosphere and emotion she experienced when taking the photo. Composition and lighting are not just technical details, they are a way of delivering a message.

The Basque beaches and Swiss Alps are a rich inspiration and recording them is a favorite pastime of Ave’s, but people are a whole other challenge. Whenever Ave takes pictures of people, be it at a group shot at a family event or a profile photo for a VirtaMed business card, she strives to make people look happy and relaxed, just the way she sees them in real life. As a typical photographer, Ave does not enjoy being put in front of the lens; the rare occasions she has loved a picture of herself have taught her the value of a well-executed portrait.

At VirtaMed, Ave is the go-to person whenever someone needs an image, whether still or moving. During a typical work week, she will take official profile photos of new employees, create quick how-to videos for customer support, film and edit interviews with happy customers, and take simulator pictures for promotional marketing materials as well as technical user manuals. Technical images can be just as challenging as pictures of people: in the race to finish a user manual in time for a product release, it takes creativity to make an unfinished hardware prototype look just as polished as the final product that gets shipped to the customer.

“Science needs visibility”

Ave did her Master studies in science communication and journalism, and she feels passionate about translating difficult yet important scientific concepts into a language the public can understand. Science and technology are so crucial in making the world go around that they deserve to be talked about; similarly, people deserve to understand how everything works. At VirtaMed, this can mean showing a sim technician how to plug in all the cables or telling medical educators and patients success stories about how simulation training has helped their peers.

Ave works as part of VirtaMed’s marketing team. For many journalists, marketing has a bad reputation—while a journalist answers to the general public, a corporate communicator has to put the company first. Yet there is a way to make this happen without losing self-respect: only work for an employer whose goals align with your own. Ave can easily list a number of companies she would never work for, whereas promoting safe and cost-effective training methods and increased patient satisfaction in VirtaMed’s name is a no-brainer.

Furthermore, Ave is fully aware that few journalists get to spend all their time promoting causes they personally believe in; clickbait stories and irrelevant filler pieces are a necessary evil to the clear majority making a living in news reporting. At least in her own work, Ave knows exactly what she is rooting for, every day with every task. A corporate communicator in a company that does good can have a greater impact on the society than a free journalist, Ave believes.

As an Estonian millennial, Ave was born under the Soviet rule and raised in free Europe. She has learned not to take the world around her as a given, but she has also discovered that she will always find her place in it. She feels equally comfortable conversing with people from socialist countries as she does in the company of natives of the liberal West. While she does not make detailed plans on what her future will hold, Ave does grip the things she can control—her own skillset.

“I want to become a known and respected expert in photography and videography”, Ave says. She wants to keep learning new technologies and experimenting on the many ways of visual expression, and she wants to be someone people turn to for advice. Not because she gets paid to do it, but because she’s brilliant at it.

Would you like to know more?
The Resistance — Ave’s winning film at the Exposure Science Film Hackathon
“We had three days to create a three-minute movie with a team of two scientists and a filmmaker—me. The hackathon’s idea was to communicate a scientifically valid concept in an audio-visually captivating way, and our movie on antibiotic resistance won the Best Film Award of the Hackathon”.
Thomas Heaton’s YouTube channel
“This is a guy who hikes and takes photos”.
Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk
“Because everyone should have faith in humanity”.