Anja Matko is a self-thought photographer, artist and jewelry designer. She started taking photography more seriously in 2011 with a focus on concert photography. After graduation she started the project “365 days” of self-portraits and gradually refined her style in fine art field.
Her photographs are both creative and emotional and stories that she’s presenting mostly have dark and surreal themes. For her work she draws inspiration from her life, her favorite stories, movies, life situations, feelings and emotions. Over the years, photographing self-portraits has become some sort of run from reality for her, where she can transfer her frustrations, ideas and thoughts into new stories.
With her images, Anja tries to encourage the viewers to become part of the story and maybe even find their own stories in them. Apart from her first project 365 days she has created two other series – String of life and Raven.
Anja has already achieved some success with her images: The image “Serenity” (highlighted in this piece) won the 2nd place in National Award 2016 of Sony World Photography Award 2016. He other image “It’s nothing” won 3th place in category Conceptual, amateur in Monochrome Awards International Black & White Photography.
Anja has utilized a specific process and technique for shooting her portraits. In what follows, she explains her style further:
Most of my images are shot inside – in front of a white wall. I realized that I express my feelings and stories more easily and the images become powerful.
It usually takes a while before I find the perfect angle and the right pose that will realize the idea that I have in my head.
The usual process goes like this: First I roughly sketch the image that I have in my head with notes and I write a story behind it. Then it’s time for shooting. The light I use comes from a window, sometimes from the side and sometimes from a roof window. I use the camera (Canon 5D mark II with Canon EF 50 mm 1.4 USM lens) on a tripod with a wireless trigger.
For one final image I take about 100 photos or more. It depends on the image. It usually takes a while before I find the perfect angle and the right pose that will realize the idea that I have in my head. But I know in a second when I see the winner shot (I always take a lot of different shots, with different poses, before I check her camera).
When the main image is done, I take a few images of the background, so that I can expand the image into a square format later in post-production. If I use props in the image, I take some shots of only them. It depends on the image and on the prop.
For some of my stories, the images have to be shot outside. I usually choose nature and I love it when it’s foggy. I really love to have fog in my images, because it really gives that extra something to the image. Sometimes the certain locations are so powerful that they give me an idea for the image. I love that, because it inspires me to create a story there and that’s really great.
I perform my post-production work in photo editing software. I always use textures that help me achieve dark mysterious looks of my images. With the inside shoots they help me achieve that feeling that the photos are shot in front of old and cracked walls. I also play a lot with curves and other software tools, which help me achieve the final result of the final image.
I always love the process from the sketch to the final image. It also happens that the pose I sketch isn’t the one that I choose in the end. And that is the beauty of the whole process of shooting. In that moment I let go and trust my feeling. I transform into the character and try to tell the story I feel.
To view Mystery Tribune’s archive of fine art and surreal photography and coverage of artists similar to Anja Matko, please go here.