Photography Spotlight // Matija Kljunak

We recently spoke with Croatian photographer Matija Kljunak about himself and his workflow, from the beginning stages of preparation through to the editing process.

ANDREA & KREŠO by Matija Kljunak

Tell us about yourself!

After shooting for 17 years (mostly on film), I fell in love with wedding photography and turned pro. That was about 150 weddings ago and I’m loving every second of it because I set my own rules, pick my own clients and develop my own style. My wife couldn’t resist in joining me, so it’s double the amount of fun and creativity now!

Having the luxury of picking your own clients means we really connect with them on the day and being a couple ourselves also helps build rapport with them much faster. This also means they react to us very differently during the day, which makes the truly candid and spontaneous shots possible. When it’s time to say goodbye, it’s usually hugs and tears all around… but that’s life.

We also enjoy taking a short break from the wedding protocol and taking the couple for a private session, grabbing a few epic shots along the way. We work a lot in Dubrovnik, Croatia which is beautiful all around.

by Matija Kljunak

Walk me through your workflow, how do you create?

Believe it or not, it all starts with dressing up. Some smart trousers and shoes, white dress shirt, HoldFast straps and a wooden bow tie enable me to move almost unnoticed among the guests and build rapport with them (their comments on the wooden bow tie or leather MoneyMaker is a great way to start a conversation).

My cameras help as well: Fuji X-Pro2 and X-T2 and select prime lenses, usually XF 16mm f/1.4 and XF 35mm f/1.4. It makes for a really nice, compact package that is very quiet and unobtrusive. People do react to it very differently than to my old Canon DSLR gear and it also helps me keep a very low profile.

Everything is recorded to two SD cards in parallel, and backed up to three different hard drives at home. I work off an SSD: a quick cull in Photo Mechanic is followed by a more thorough second cull in Lightroom, when I also create and sort a collection to build a narrative. This is a very creative and important part which is easily overlooked — building a story from your sometimes random sequence of shots is just as important as shooting the images themselves in my opinion.

Since Fuji X-trans files are demanding to render, I build smart previews in LR, unlink originals and then paste my favorite preset. (It was originally based on a Tribe Archipelago preset, but I evolved it through time to something quite different.)

Editing is my favorite part (shocked, right?) because I get to throw away my keyboard and mouse and pick up my Wacom Intuos and Palette Pro (with some extra dials thrown in to max it out at 18 modules). Dials, sliders and a pen are a very enjoyable way to interface with your computer — tactile, analog and very intuitive. I can completely forget what my hands are doing and just focus on getting the most out of each individually polished shot.

by Matija Kljunak

As a Palette Beta tester, how would you say it has enhanced your workflow?

I’m something of an ergonomics fiend and workflow hacking enthusiast; the amount of time I reconfigured the physical and functional layout of Palette is beyond measure.

I’ve got it dialed in now and it shows — it takes me about 3x less time editing with Palette and Intuos compared to keyboard and mouse. It means I bring Palette on my trips as well, in a screaming orange Pelicase. It might sound cumbersome, but isn’t it much worse spending 3x longer to edit on a trip instead of enjoying yourself? Creativity needs mental food and it’s definitely not sitting in front of your computer editing. :)

Palette is a physical controller, everyone gets that. But what they may not realize (until they try it) that with Palette you can perform multiple edits at the same time!

This is a huge productivity boost, because with enough experience I can think of 5 edits the photo needs the instant I see it.

And with most frequent controls mapped to sliders and dials in close proximity I can use just one hand to manipulate 2 sliders and a dial (with my pinky finger), while the other hand grabs a dial for the fourth or fifth edit. Example: highlights and whites recovery (2 sliders) and exposure correction (dial) while fixing the cropping angle or white balance (dial).

by Matija Kljunak

My favorite thing about Palette? I calculated it saves me about a month of sitting in front of the computer per year while keeping the same high attention to each edit. It actually probably results in even better quality of edits because it’s easy to be a perfectionist when all the important controls are just a millisecond away from your fingertips.

Palette made it possible for me to cull, edit and export a wedding (4500 shots) and layout a wedding book in just one single day!

I don’t like to get attached to material things, but my Palette and me are as close as it gets! (And my clients just love the high quality and short delivery times)

Find more of Matija’s work at the links below:

www.matijakljunakweddings.com

https://www.facebook.com/matijakljunakweddings/

Do you want to be featured, or know someone that should be? Send us an email at press@palettegear.com

by Matija Kljunak