Katja Klaus (@katja_marian) is a true macro queen. Her focus on finding beauty in subtlety is as fascinating as it is enchanting. Katja's photographs seem to slow the world down and we adore her very subtle and very natural editing process is always spot on and charming. We had the great privilege of interviewing Katja to discover just what keeps her going. Take a look at our conversation!
Hi there! My name is Katja and I come from the southeast coast of Finland. After a few year stint in Scotland and England, I have now pretty much settled in The Netherlands with my Dutch husband.
I work at the headquarters of an international company where my days are filled with board and management reports and presentations. Work's often very hectic, so I try to snatch whatever moment I can to spend some time outdoors relaxing. My happy places are the dunes, woodlands, foggy mornings and somewhere - anywhere - by the sea (I grew up by the sea, so it's in my blood). My camera always travels with me. Photography is my creative outlet and a great stress reliever as it always gets my mind off of things. Another thing close to my heart and something I definitely couldn't live without is music.
How did you first come about using photography as a creative outlet and stress reliever?
I've always loved to take photos. I started snapping them with my granny's old compact when I was about 10 years old. In the beginning, I didn't see it as anything creative, just pure fun. Throughout the years my hunger for photography has steadily grown, especially during the past 10 years. My work is far from anything creative and has also been getting busier and busier over the years. I discovered that photography was just the right thing to balance things out and feed the more creative side of me.
Buying a set of proper lenses a few years ago (including my beloved macro lens) was quite a revelation, finally enabling me to take the kind of photos I always wanted to take but never thought I would be able to. Another revelation was Instagram. The inspiration you find there is endless. I suppose the final seal - what really got my creative juices going - was when I discovered Mextures and how you can use it to enhance your photos and take them to a whole new level.
Any possible stress is easily released when I go out on a shooting trip. When I am out there hunting for that next shot, that perfect droplet (I'm totally obsessed with them), I get completely lost in the moment and forget about everything else. And weirdly enough I also find the editing process quite relaxing.
What attracted you to shooting those gorgeous macros?
Macro photography has always fascinated me, but it took a very long time until I got myself the right equipment to really start exploring it.
I bought a macro lens few years ago, but at first I didn't use it horribly much as I didn't have any place to share my photos. All that changed when I discovered Instagram.
Initially I was just posting camera phone shots, desperately trying to get some kind of close ups whilst my macro lens was collecting dust. That was mainly because it was too laborious to transfer photos from my camera to my tablet (I do all my editing with my tablet). Eventually I bought a camera with built-in Wi-Fi and suddenly transferring photos got super easy. That was the turning point.
These days I mainly shoot with the macro lens (and now all of the other lenses are collecting dust). Macro photography has totally captivated me and really opened my eyes to see everything around me. The world is full of beauty, even in the teeniest, tiniest details that one might not even normally notice. I love to find, capture and reveal those tiny details!
How do you generally approach your editing process?
When I first started using Mextures, my editing style was relatively heavy, but these days I prefer a bit of a lighter touch. I do all of my editing on my iPad, as I prefer the bigger screen to my phone. If needed, I start the editing in Lightroom. Then I take the photo to Mextures and first test some of my existing formulas on it. I choose one of them as a base and then tweak it a bit until I reach the mood I was looking for. I often end up with several different edits of one shot and then have huge difficulties in deciding which one will end up going to Instagram.
I tend to prefer cool, blue hues and quite a subtle approach. I think two of my favourite textures are Optimism in the Atmospheric Pack and Vintage from the Vintage Gradients Pack.. The whole Atmospheric bundle is awesome. I also use the Landscape Enhance, Radiance and X-film bundles quite a lot. Franklin is my favourite from Emulsion. Mostly, I use only a couple of textures in my edits, but every now and then I go crazy and end up with 9-10 of them. I also like to play with different blending modes (like Difference and Exclusion) and film presets. I absolutely love the fade function and use it with all of my edits.
Do you ever create formulas that you’d be willing to share?
But of course! I’m always happy to share.
MIQTNTN - 5 layers. Little bit moodier of a formula with lots of fade and blue hues, mainly from the Atmospheric bundle.
CBVADSP - 5 layers. Gives this greenish almost underwater feel. Works best with lighter backgrounds.
XRXAUKW - 2 layers. One of my simple cool blue formulas with Vintage and Optimism.
RJDYZMD - 3 layers. Another cool blue formula with Atmospheric textures. Creates a nice calm mood.
ASMQQAA - 8 layers. Little bit of a darker formula with brown hues, topped with grit and grain and light leaks. Gives a nice dramatic effect when used on dark rain clouds.
AGGUCXV - 5 layers. Moody black and white formula with a lot of grit and grain.
What has been your favorite photo to capture so far?
It was a difficult choice, but in the end it had to be this droplet shot.
On that day it had been raining for hours before the sun eventually came out. So I quickly grabbed my camera and ran outside to catch some raindrop jewels sparkling in the sun.
Usually my macro shots are far from super sharp, but for once I managed to get the focus right. Hurrah! However, the real magic happened when I applied a gentle Mextures edit to it. I'm just really pleased with the end result. It looks like it's been sprinkled with little bit of fairy dust.
Is there anything in particular you hope to accomplish in 2016 in regards to your photography and/or editing?
I would say I'm in a comfortable place with my editing. After loads of experimenting (which is always fun) I think I have finally found my own editing style, enabling me to replicate the image and mood I had visualised.
When it comes to photography there's plenty I hope to accomplish. To start with, master my new camera and learn some (more) of the basics of photography.
Who are some of the people that have most inspired your photography and creative process?
For me personally, my biggest sources of inspiration come from Instagram. If I could list 50 people I would. But here are some of my favourites:
@pickledgoose (Jessica) - Her gorgeous macro shots and atmospheric Mextures edits are just magical.
@blue.ridinghood - The queen of fog. Her amazing woodlands captivated me pretty much from the start when I joined Instagram.
@moodulator - This duo is awesome! I absolutely adore their work. Her stunning photography and moody edits and his wordmanship.
@anna28h (Annukka) - She's a master of capturing delicate details and her Mextures edits are always so gentle and soothing. I love her work. Another talented lady from Finland with a beautiful gallery is @suippaq (Suvi).
@poppybarach (Poppy) does the most amazing still lives and her tones are to die for.
See heaps more of Katja’s photos right here!