The Style Spotlight: Konsta Punkka
Frost, fur, and a whole lot of patience. On this installment of the Style Spotlight, our pursuit of exemplary photography takes us to the Finnish wilderness to shed some light on the life and work of one very unique portrait photographer.
For the last five years, Konsta Punkka has been making a name for himself by shaking up animal photography with stunningly intimate animal portraits. With over a million Instagram followers and an ever-growing travel budget, this 22-year-old, self-taught photographer sat down with us to discuss how he creates his signature look in a genre as old as photography itself.
Finding your Style
When the topic of inspiration comes up, Konsta expresses how his vision is not sculpted by any singular genre: “My style is inspired by a variety of different styles of photography.” By mashing them together, Konsta believes you’ll begin to find the editing tricks and visual language needed to set your style apart.
When asked what makes his style his own he says, “My style of photography and editing balances the traditional documentary way with an editing vibe from the commercial world.”
Style in Focus
Konsta’s desire to defy convention comes to life in more than his work, but the way he shoots it, opting to capture his animal portraits with a short lens. Using such a short lens means he has to be incredibly patient if he wants to get close enough for a shot, but the results speak for themselves. “I think my style speaks the language of the animals and it helps the animals’ feelings come to life in the pictures.”
Lightroom in Style
Once Konsta’s patience has paid off and he’s captured an image, he begins the process of editing and framing to reflect his unique style. When asked what he does to give his photographs their distinct look, he replies: “I always decrease the exposure on my pictures and then afterwards make specific highlight details stand out to guide the viewer’s eyes to the right subject.” Adding, “I like darker, moody, faded black tones with a twist of colors like orange, green and blue.”
Combining his love for darker tones and vivid highlights, Konsta is able to perfectly capture his subject, stating: “My editing pops up specific small details that have a bigger meaning on the overall picture.”
Here’s a look into Konsta’s process.
To streamline his workflow, Konsta generally uses one of two presets while in Lightroom. For this photo, he uses a treatment he calls “Finnish Painting,” which brings out the orange and red, while muting the greens and blues. Overall, the preset darkens the whole photo: “My preset never makes the photo finished. It just gives the base for the right color and light balances.”
The next step for Konsta is usually framing, which can vary based on the content of the photo and the platform it will wind up on. “I position my subject in the middle of the picture and think about how I will edit the tracks and lines on the picture to guide the viewer to watch the main three objects in this picture, which are this time two of the birds and the detailed small cloud.”
While some tools are useful, Konsta believes the vignette presets aren’t precise enough for him. Instead, he chooses to use gradient filters to help make his subjects pop. He then brings the details of the birds and rock to the forefront by highlighting the brights.
The Love of Photography
Konsta gave us a look into the passion that’s brought him across the globe. He said, “There’s so much more to see in the animal world. I fall in love with photography more and more every time I see it. I want to show the true emotions and the feelings of the animals I photograph. That keeps me shooting.”