Photography Spotlight // Matt Fukushima

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a professional photographer who is from Southern California and has been at this business of pushing a little “shutter button” for a little over 30 years. At this point in my career, I’ve shot in almost all of the different disciplines of commercial and portrait work except for fashion. I’ve worked with small format, medium format and large format cameras…both in color, B&W and transparency and now obviously in digital.

I suspect I’m like most photographers who are blissfully happy because they get to do what they love to do every day and so in that respect I’m pretty normal.

I also love to snow ski, like beagles and enjoy a good IPA beer from time to time.

Walk us through your journey of becoming a photographer?

I was always very “visual” even as a child. My family would always have me take the vacation pictures with my Kodak 110 camera and would ask my opinion about anything concerning a visual aspect. When I entered college, I was studying to become a film director but morphed into still photography when I took a photography class and saw the image come alive in the developer tray. From then on, I was hooked!

I started shooting professionally right out of college and opened a studio when I was 25 years old. I was truly clueless at that time about my chosen profession but just knew I wanted to be a photographer and I thought that having a studio would validate me. Like most young creatives, I had no money at the time and so I ended up living in my studio. The original plan of saving up money for 3 months and then getting an apartment turned into a 12 year live in arrangement until I eventually got caught by the property managers (not zoned for residential living). But over time, I honed my skills, made additional contacts and acquired more clients which in turn, has led me to where I am now….a real live professional photographer.

What’s the one moment that stands out in your career so far?

I’ve been very lucky and so I’ve had many cool moments. Shooting container vessels from a helicopter in Puget Sound, rigging cameras on roller coasters at an amusement park, photographing actor Liev Schreiber’s kitchen in Manhattan, shooting the new terminal of an Orange County airport from the ground up and backing into and falling into a baptismal fountain while shooting a wedding.

Is there a location you want to shoot but haven’t yet?

Again, there are many locations I’d like to shoot at but I’d say the top one or two are Antarctica and Iceland. They both appeal to me as being “other worldly” and it would awesome to visit either one. Now, I just need a client to have a project there.

What’s your typical process after you you’ve finished taking the photos?

Truthfully, it is to go get a bite as I don’t generally eat during shoots, whether it is a 2 hour shoot or a 12 hour shoot.

Then it is to the office and download the cards to the computer and import them into Lightroom. I then back up the images to an external hard drive.

If the client needs immediate images, I quickly go through the shots and and make a top level edit. I optimize them (color correct, exposure, cropping, noise reduction, etc.) through Lightroom and either make a web gallery to send to client for viewing or export the images and upload to an FTP site for client download.

I then go back to the balance of the images and optimize each image. Even though I understand the client is only going to use a handful of the images from the entire shoot, I want each image to look as good as possible and so that’s why I “fix” every image.

During this edit, I also mark my ‘Selects’ other than any I selected during the initial immediate edit (if the client had required immediate images).

When complete, I export out as Jpegs and then also back up those images.

Then I take selected “Selects” and retouch them via Photoshop. These files are then exported out as Jpegs or Tiffs depending on need.

I then take all of the “Retouched Finals”, the “Selects” and the “Balances” and copy to a thumb drive and deliver to the client.

How does Palette fit into your post-processing workflow?

Palette is now my #1 post-processing tool. With (21) modules and (2) profiles set up, I rarely have to use the keyboard for editing. Essentially, Palette is my post-processing. Maybe in the future, Palette will turn into a verb like Google and Xerox. Instead of saying, “I have to go process my images”, photographers will say, “I have to go back to the office and Palette my shots.”

Do you have a favorite module?

My favorite module is the Dial. I love the fact that they are so precise and smooth. I also love the fact that they start from a “zero” point for each new image unlike the Slider that begins from where it was last set. Another nice feature is that a push down on the Dial brings the setting back to zero from wherever you are on the setting. Also love the functionality of being able to set three different actions for a single Dial. I have one Dial set where a twist to the Right, copies the settings from the current image, a press down on the Dial acts like the Return button on the keyboard and accepts the action and a twist to the Left pastes those settings to a new image. That alone is just awesome!

What function do you use the most with Palette?

I use them all quite a bit as I tend to adjust a little bit of everything. The ones that seem to save me the most amount of time versus a keyboard are the Crop Angle and HSL panel (Hue, Saturation, Luminance).

The crop angle set to a Dial is fantastic. I’ve told photographer pals that that alone is worth the cost of Palette. The ability to turn the dial to adjust a crooked image and be done versus the keyboard action of pressing “R”, finding your mouse, grabbing a corner and adjusting the image and then again pressing “R” is just such a time saver.

The HSL panel in Palette is a time saver for me because I have modules set up for different colors for Luminance and Saturation. With the keyboard, I can’t see the HSL panel on the monitor and have scroll down the screen to access it. With Palette, I just switch to my second profile and adjust the appropriate module and press a Button to switch back to my main profile. In this manner, I’m able to quickly take out color casts from the many mixed lighting source environments that I end up shooting in.

Anything else you’d like to share?

This is repetitive of what was stated in many reviews I read before I purchased Palette but it is very well made, very intuitive, excellent design and easy to set up. The customer service is the best I have experienced in years and years!

It may take a while to get your layout set up to your liking and a while to get your finger muscle memory ingrained but once you do, your workflow will improve dramatically.

I live and work in an area that is highly competitive and so any little edge you can add to your business is a huge plus and for me, Palette is that huge benefit.

Stay connected to Matt!


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