In life, it all starts with a choice. I chose my path, it is called passion
Hi Milorad! And thank you for all your availability for this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
My name is Milorad Stanković, I am 37 years old, and I currently live near Novi Sad, more precisely in a small place on the slopes of the Fruška Gora mountain in Serbia. I work as a photographer, and that is my primary occupation.
Going back a few years, could you tell us how your interest in photography began?
Everything started when my father, using an old “KIEV” camera, showed me how a photograph is taken. It was back in 1996, and that knowledge remained sealed in me and waited a moment for me to continue to improve my photographic skills.
Coincidentally, life took me in a different direction while photography had to wait for its day. In 2014, I decided to resign from the company where I worked, sell a motorcycle and buy my photo equipment. It was a Canon 60D and some lenses. I just threw myself into the fire, and I wanted to make a living from photography. It was a difficult period.
What type of photos do you take just for yourself when not on assignment?
When I photograph for myself, and when someone asks me what I like to photograph, I don’t know how to give the correct answer. I simply like to have the camera with me while walking through the city, the forest… I want to photograph things that attract my attention and how I experienced and saw that moment.
What made you decide to turn your passion into a profession and become a professional photographer?
I believe it comes from my father again. These are subconscious beliefs. My father is an electronics engineer and has worked from home all his life, which gave him some freedom and independence from the system, so I probably wanted that too. And photography gives you freedom and independence in a way, not entirely of course. So I reconciled two things, beliefs and a love for photography.
CHECK AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE HOW YOU CAN WIN THIS GRIP FOR YOUR FUJI X-T3
What type of professional assignments do you shoot most often?
When I decided to take up photography, my knowledge was quite limited. I never went to any courses or photography school. I used to watch some YouTube videos, but despite these tutorials, I hadn’t learned anything that wasn’t by practice. I can say that I am self-taught.
I started by thinking that I could work for stock sites. However, I was not productive enough, so I did not manage to pay the bills and rent and food from the earnings from the stock sites. Then I met some photographers, and I got an offer to help them at some weddings. So over time, I decided to do events such as weddings, and that’s how I left Stock Photography.
What made you decide to switch from Canon DSLRs to Fuji mirrorless cameras?
My first professional photo equipment was Canon, and in the end, I was using a Canon 6D full-frame camera. However, not good enough for my job because it had only one memory card slot and a poor autofocus system.
In 2017, I waited for the new 6D Mk II to come out and was disappointed, while the Canon 5D Mk IV was quite expensive for me. Then I watched Sony… I didn’t want Nikon for some personal reasons, but that doesn’t mean I think Nikon is a bad camera.
I researched everything and came across Fujifilm. The first thing I typed in Google search was “Fujifilm Full Frame camera” 😊 But is it really necessary!? I started thinking about it, and I was honest with myself… When I used an FF camera and a large aperture lens (for example F1.4), I was constantly looking to take photos with a blurred background, and I didn’t get into photography much more than that.
At the time, I realized that I needed to learn and improve my experience, such as dealing more with other aspects like how the people I photograph stand out from the chosen background.
Then I bought my first Fujifilm X-T2 and gave the crop sensor a chance to be professional. It is now five years that I have been a Fujifilm X system user 😊
Did you miss anything from your previous DSLR setup when you made this switch?
From Canon, I missed the simple but still good Raw files with good colours, and of course, the FF sensor look on the photos, which is not easy to achieve with a crop sensor. However, with the purchase of Fujifilm prime lenses, this was entirely compensated.
Fujifilm has very nice colours and great film simulations, so I have a good start when editing Fujifilm Raw files. Of course, it took me a while to get used to Fujifilm’s Raw files. For the last two years, I have been processing them in Capture One, and I am really satisfied.
What advantages and disadvantages do you find in the Fuji X system for your professional work?
The first and basic advantage is the compactness of the camera. My backpack with two bodies (X-T2 and X-T3), five prime lenses and two flashes is much smaller and lighter than it would be with similar equipment from a DSLR FF system.
Both of these bodies I use are now fairly old in 2022, but they work great for my job. The lenses I use are great! – Samyang 12mm F2.0, Fujinon XF23mm F1.4, XF35mm F1.4, XF56mm F1.2 and XF90mm F2.
The only drawback is the poorer quality of photography in low light conditions. Still, honestly, that doesn’t bother me much because the quality is still quite acceptable.
Being a working professional photographer and using your cameras for several hours every day was the main reason why you felt the need to add a grip to your Fuji cameras?
Wedding photography is a very demanding job and can take all day. In this regard, fatigue occurs at the end of the day, and the camera’s compactness does not give you complete security of posture-grip.
That’s why you decided to use a grip and, interestingly, make them yourself?
While using only one body (X-T2), I bought a vertical battery grip and realized that it makes it easier to hold the camera. When the X-T3 arrived, I wasn’t able to buy a vertical grip, so it occurred to me to make it out of wood.
It was a challenge and a wonderful feeling of creation at the same time. I believe that I was influenced by the environment. Just before buying the X-T3 camera, I moved to the mountain Fruška Gora where I was surrounded by forest and nature.
How did you come up with the design of the grips? Do you privilege style or enhanced comfort when using cameras for long periods / with heavy lenses?
My first wooden grip did not look like a professional masterpiece of a carpenter, but it had its function. It has improved the camera’s grip and made it easier to work for a long time. It made the retro look of the camera even more expressive, and I can freely state that it also protected the camera from damage.
As I stated in the video I posted on YouTube, I am not a professional carpenter, and I do not have carpentry tools. I have experience servicing some household items, sometimes I service my motorcycle and the like, but more as a hobby user.
However, I got the desire to make a wooden grip that would be a little better than the first attempt. Then I made some tools that helped me succeed in that, but it was still far from looking professional.
The wooden grip shown on YouTube is actually my second attempt. I posted photos of my wooden grip on the Facebook page for Fuji fans and sent two wooden grips to Denmark and Greece. It was authentic handiwork.
Then I got an even bigger desire to make it look even better, and I constructed my own CNC machine that would help me with all that. It was another challenge for me. Then the pandemic started, and the whole world slowly stopped.
We understand that you choose different types of wood for manufacturing the grips, correct?
The wood I use to make the grip should, first of all, be strong and resistant to long-term use/holding. In the second place is the appearance, the texture that wood has, and that is a subjective opinion.
Wood should not change its strength when exposed to different temperatures because it stays in the hand for a long time. I chose steamed beech, walnut and oak.
The next thing is painting. There were various attempts, and in the end, I realized that it is best to use transparent water-based varnish, and it is coated several times to better preserve it. The grip needs to be tested long before the sale, for which I am a great example. My grips have shown themselves well over time. After three years of use, the grips are in excellent physical and aesthetic condition.
Is it possible to use a tripod with the grip?
Yes, it’s possible to mount the wooden grip on the tripod.
For which camera models do you have grips available?
To make a wooden grip with an ideal camera lying on it, I need that camera for a couple of days, and that’s the biggest downside at the moment. The camera models I managed to cover are: Fujifilm X-T2, X-T3, X-E2, X-T20; Sony A7 II, A7 III. I would mention that I also made for the Canon EOS R.
However, wood is not suitable for this camera model as well as for other Canon FF MILCs. The problem is with the large door for the battery, which means that the wood in those places should be thin. And that can easily cause the wood to crack and bend.
The time when I started making wooden grips was not good for starting a business. That was the end of 2019, and as we all know, then the pandemic with the Coronavirus began. My sales market was Serbia, and it has remained until today, and Serbia does not have enough potential for selling wooden grips.
Many photographers have started switching from DSLR to Mirrorless in the last year, but most are still on DSLR cameras. My opinion is that the Fuji system is the most suitable for wooden grips. Next is Sony and other smaller cameras. Canon and Nikon don’t have as much need for a better grip accessory.
To conclude, the question that certainly interests our readers the most. How can they order a grip from you?
People interested in buying a wooden grip can order it via my Instagram. Unfortunately, the business has not expanded enough to have a website at the moment.
I would like to mention that the whole process of creating a wooden grip was a challenge and a pure passion, as well as a passion for photography.
“The wood used to make the wooden grip is oak. It has a very nice texture. To make the handle, several parts were used, a mix of plexiglass and oak. Before varnishing, laser engraving was done. The handle was varnished with a hard varnish. I personally like the end result.”
HOW YOU CAN WIN THIS GRIP FOR YOUR FUJI X-T3:
To be eligible to win this grip for your Fuji X-T3, follow Milorad on Instagram, and please write in the comments below which is your favourite lens and what country are you from.
We will draw the winner among the answers (Deadline: March 31, 2022).
“My name is Milorad Stanković, I am 37 years old, and I currently live near Novi Sad, more precisely in a small place on the slopes of the Fruška Gora mountain in Serbia. I work as a photographer.”