Welcome to the M Palma Photo Blog

Hi, my name is Mike, a professional wedding and portrait photographer born, raised, and based here in beautiful, Silverlake, Los Angeles, California.

On this blog, you'll find the daily inspirations, images and musings of my life.

I love photographing people, places, and anything else that catches my eye. I describe my style of photography as modern, fun, and energetic. So stay a while, check out my work, and get to know me better through my images and entries.

If you'd like to visit my main wedding and portrait site, click on this link, or click on the "connect" button up top to drop me a line via e-mail.

Like I said, stay awhile, and enjoy the entries. And please, do leave a comment. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter (via the icons above this paragraph) for even more up-to-date happenings (don't worry, I won't put up meager posts like "I'm standing in line at Starbucks" (my favorite coffee spot!). Only the really cool and important stuff!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy August everyone! Wow, summer is almost over! Okay, maybe the summer weather isn’t over, but the calendar says we’re in the last month of summer. How’s it going?

Eight months into 2015 and I finally got the opportunity to photograph one of my wedding photography wish list items – a vineyard wedding! Sure, I’ve attended a couple before but have never been lucky enough to photograph one! Not until the amazing wedding of Kera and Danny! For this wedding, my friend Nik invited me along to be the primary photographer, while he worked his video magic throughout the day. Along with my new buddy Joe, we three amigos set out for a long, hot, but beautiful day in the vineyards of Santa Ynez, particularly, Lincourt Vineyards, near Solvang (you know, that Danish town outside of Santa Barbara? Yeah, that one!). It’s such a beautiful little vineyard, complete with everything you would imagine a vineyard to have, picturesque grape fields, a gorgeous wine tasting barn, a beautiful lawn for weddings, a well sized courtyard for events (like wedding receptions!) and most importantly, a friendly, helpful staff ready to lend a hand and a smile when needed. You don’t need to get married there (although if you do, you’re making the RIGHT decision) to visit, so if you’re ever in that area, add it to your list of wine tasting venues – you won’t regret it!

Now back to the wedding!

Sure, a nice venue for one’s nuptials makes for a memorable day, but it isn’t required when the wedding itself is filled with great moments, people and memorable anecdotes of times past. EVERY wedding I photograph is special, from the small courthouse variety to the extravagant shindigs, and this one was no exception. For me, what made this wedding so unique and heart felt was the two families that joined on this day, particularly the absence of the groom’s father who sadly passed away a few years ago. In the ceremony and speeches that followed, you could see how sorely he was missed, and by all accounts, how terrific a person he was. Even I was brought to some tears hearing the families talk about him. He sounded like a great guy, and by the looks of all the people at the wedding, I’m sure he was.

The day itself was terrific all around! From the bride’s dress, to the funny, and comedic groomsmen, to the oh-so-tasty food, this was a great day to get married. I’m just grateful to have been a part of it.

So, with a first, I’m including a link to a slideshow of my favorites from the day right HERE!

A huge thanks to Nik W. for having me along and to Joe H. for the ride up to the vineyard. Oh, and a huge thanks to the staff of Lincourt Vineyards for their great space and hospitality!

Here are a few photos from the slideshow. But do click on the slideshow to see more! Thanks!

 

 

M Palma Photography, Lincourt Vineyards, Santa Ynez, Los Angeles Wedding Photographer, Silverlake calif., vineyard wedding, Solvang wedding, Solvang Calif. wedding

 

 

 

 

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2015_M Palma Photography-1

Happy fourth of July week everyone! If you’re living in So. Cal., man, it’s HOT! Albeit, humid hot, which reminds me of Hawaii, which is nice, but still, HOT!

For those of you who have followed me over the years, you know that I describe my wedding work as modern, fun, and energetic. I strive to make my weddings all of these and have had good success in doing so. What I love most about this style are the couples that I get to meet and work with/for. I’ve been blessed with couples who are every bit of these adjectives, and for that, I am truly grateful and blessed!

Last week Tuesday, I was once again hnored to have photographed yet another terrific couple, Heather and Roger, of whom I met at another wedding I photographed and shared here on the blog, Crystal and Mark. Because Crystal and Mark are amazing people, it only figures that their friends are the same! Heather and Roger are exactly that as well.

I hadn’t seen them since early this year, January when we first met to go over their wedding, and last week, 6 mos. later, there we were photographing their engagement session at the world famous Music Center in downtown L.A. Sure, a lot of couples have had their wedding and e-sessions photographed within and around its beautiful surroundings, but this couple (and I!) were able to photograph INSIDE it! Yup! Inside the theater and stage areas!!! Prior to any shoot, I always like to research the venue I will be photographing, and noticed that no other photographer has ever photographed an e-session inside that actual performance space! As noted, there are tons of photos in the lobby, on the subsequent floors, etc., but none in the theater area itself. My cool bride-to-be Heather works for the Music Center, so hence the special permission given to us to shoot inside! Woo hoo!!! I have to say, photographing in such an iconic venue was so cool!!! I was awestruck thinking of all the entertainment legends who have graced that stage, everyone from Sinatra to Pavarotti! There we were, the three of us, with the theater all to ourselves, to photograph any which way we wanted.

Here’s the caveat though – I CAN’T show you guys the interior photos. I know, I know, I hyped it up, told you how awesome it was, but can’t show you the photos?! What the?! With all my clients, I always ask them for permission for certain photos of their e-sessions or weddings. I respect everyone’s privacy, and sometimes, I can’t post any or all of the photos, and that’s alright. Because Heather works for the Music Center, she thought it best for us not to post any of the interior shots, just in case. And for that I applaud and respect her decision. So to everyone reading this, sorry!

However, I’m going to share a few photos from the outside we took! From these photos, you will definitely see the “modern, fun, and energetic” side to Heather and Roger. The best type of clients!!! I love these two and the energy they shared with me during their e-session. To say that I’m excited for their fall wedding is an understatement! These guys make my “job” easy :) Thanks you two :)

Enjoy your Fourth of July weekend everyone. Thanks for stopping by!

Mike

2015, M Palma Photography, engagement session, music center, downtown los angeles, dorthy chandler pavillion, nikon d810, couples

2015, M Palma Photography, engagement session, music center, downtown los angeles, dorthy chandler pavillion, nikon d810, couples

2015, M Palma Photography, engagement session, music center, downtown los angeles, dorthy chandler pavillion, nikon d810, couples

2015, M Palma Photography, engagement session, music center, downtown los angeles, dorthy chandler pavillion, nikon d810, couples

Happy Thursday everyone. How’s it going? Swimmingly? Good!

For the past two months or so, I’ve gone “back” to my camera/photography roots with good ‘ol film. Remember those things that came in canisters or rolled up on spools? When pictures weren’t instantaneous (except for maybe poloroid), and you had to wait anywhere from an hour to a week to see the photos you took? Yeah, that stuff!

If you’re like me, and had a childhood BEFORE the internet, then I’m certain you have photo albums filled with actual PRINTED photographs. Yup, actual photos that you can put in your hand and look at without a computer, tablet or phone. Crazy huh?

When I first started in photography, I learned using film. Black and white film that I rolled into canisters myself (it was cheaper that way back then vs. buying a whole bunch of rolls). I took photos, had them processed, printed them on contact or “proof” sheets, all of this taking place within a matter of a few days. No instant gratification, just anxious waiting to see what I got. That was the thing that I loved most about photography back then, today too, the feeling of “what did I get?”

As a person who makes his living with photography, in the digital age, it’s not uncommon to shoot 100+ frames on any given shoot. It’s so easy, and there’s no waiting! It’s instantaneous. With this advantage, we sometimes take things for granted. We can shoot a couple of “test” frames before getting the one shot we want or need, no problem! But with film, you HAVE to slow down and actually think about what you’re going to do before pressing the shutter. Mostly because it’s a slower process, and you’re limited to the number of exposures you have on your roll, which for 35mm is usually 24 or 26 frames, or for roll film (120/220 size), 12 to 24.

For me, it’s the opportunity to just  S L O W the whole photographic process down, and really get creative. To actually think about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what it’ll look like in the end, when you get the roll processed. It’s a way for me to get back to my roots, and to broaden my artistry with my photography, vs. just getting the shot. Shooting with film makes you  S L O W down to make better images. Just like with quality made goods, things take time.

In addition to shooting digital, which is a modern day necessity, I’m going back to film. Armed with a few “new” old cameras, including a Mamiya RB67, a 62 year-old Russian made 35mm camera, my old Nikon F3 and F100, a Kodak Brownie and a Yashica 124g TLR, I’m happy to move back into the slow lane.

With this said, here’s a few examples of stuff I’ve photographed with my awesome analog cameras! All the images you will see have NO post processing added to them. That’s the beauty of film! What you get, is what you get! Sure, I could process them in Lightroom or Photoshop, but why? I love the feel and texture of what the film gives, better than any filter ever created.

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, mamiya rb67, film, analog film, yashica 124g, zorki4

 

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, mamiya rb67, film, analog film, yashica 124g, zorki4

 

 

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, mamiya rb67, film, analog film, yashica 124g, zorki4

 

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, mamiya rb67, film, analog film, yashica 124g, zorki4

 

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, mamiya rb67, film, analog film, yashica 124g, zorki4

 

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, mamiya rb67, film, analog film, yashica 124g, zorki4

 

 

There you have it! I love that each image has so much character – flaws, depth, strengths, etc. So much more than any digital file. If you want to become a better photographer in this digital age, or just want to have some fun, pick up an analog camera. It’ll be like old times for some, and for others, it’ll just test your patience, for the BETTER!

Thanks for stopping by folks. Happy Thursday!

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy first week of June everyone! We’re half way through 2015, and I hope you are all doing well :)

I wanted to share with you a recent experience I had with a rather EXPENSIVE piece of camera gear, a medium format, $30,000.00 Phase One,  50+ Megapixel (MP)camera! Yes, $30,000.00, the price of a decent car, like a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. $30,000.00!!!

In my ongoing effort to better my lighting and photography skills, I signed up for a day long fashion photography class with Jodi Jones, a renowned fashion photographer based out of New York.  Jodi is such a cool person and her work rocks as well! Definitely check out her website. During the workshop, we went over various lighting examples, and her approach to fashion photography which made for a fun day of learning. But the piece de resistance, was the opportunity to work with the Phase One camera with two models hired for the workshop.

Now, for those of you who know me, I am totally against Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.), but the chance to work with a true high end, uber-pro level camera is something that I didn’t want to pass up.

The difference between a medium format camera and a full frame camera is essentially the sensor size. “Full frame” DSLRs have sensors that are the exact dimensions of a single 35mm roll film photo (36mm x 24mm), whereas a medium-format sensor (or equivalent film size) is 6 x 4.5 cm, which is roughly DOUBLE the size of 35mm/full frame cameras. Along with that extra sensor real estate, you can get so much more pixel depth and information, thus, are able to crop in super tight, and/or enlarge to billboard size without any problems. In short, you get GORGEOUS files – well, gorgeous if properly made that is.

 

MF vs 35

 

 

 

 

Sure, a 50+ MP will also take up a lot of hard drive space, but if you need the quality and depth, and are shooting huge campaigns (and already have a nice car), then hey,  buy the Phase One. (Disclaimer – I’m not sponsored by them, but I WISH!)

So, couple a great camera system, an awesome fashion photographer instructor (with an equally cool assistant by the name of Adam), throw in two gorgeous models, and voila, you can’t take a bad photo! Okay, you CAN take a bad photo, but why?!!!

Here are some behind the scenes looks of the day, including a photo I took with the Phase One. Enjoy!

 

2015, M Palma Photography, Jodi Jones Studio, fashion photography, BTS, phase one, quixote studios, iphone5

 

Jodi (with camera) and assistant Adam with one of the models we worked with that day.

 

 

 

 

 

2015, M Palma Photography, Jodi Jones Studio, fashion photography, BTS, phase one, quixote studios, iphone5

 

Jodi again with another model and additional lighting set-up

 

 

 

 

2015, M Palma Photography, Jodi Jones Studio, fashion photography, BTS, phase one, quixote studios, iphone5

 

One of our lighting set-ups. It looks more complicated than it really is.

 

 

 

 

2015, M Palma Photography, Jodi Jones Studio, fashion photography, BTS, phase one, quixote studios, iphone5

 

Here it is, the photo I was able to take using the Phase One. I downscaled it just so you can see it without having to wait too long for it to download (50 MP can take a LONG time to download. If you’re truly interested, I can share it with you via FTP)

This is straight out of the camera, using just one beauty dish, and a profoto light. BTS up above.

There you have it. My day with a $30K camera. Did I mention that it was a THIRTY THOUSAND dollar camera?! Needless to say, I don’t need a Phase One, nor will I ever consider buying it, but as with a lot of things in life, there are some jobs that require special “tools” and the Phase One is one awesome tool to play with.

Thanks to Jodi Jones, Adam, Quixote Studios, and the two models for a great day!

Thanks for stopping by!

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howdy gang! Thanks for stopping by! May has been a nice and busy month for me, shooting for both my business and personal work. The month started off with a rare opportunity to photograph the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. A world leader! Not just follow him around and document him, but literally light him, pose him, and of course take his portrait! Such an amazing honor and experience for me! That and being surrounded by the hundreds of U.S. Secret Service! So cool! However, that is a story for another time. If you’re interested, ask me later or when you see me.

As for this post, this one is all about my recent portrait shoot with director Snehal Desai, who is currently directing East West Players’ (EWP) “Tommy” by The Who, in Little Tokyo.  EWP and Snehal contacted me because they needed photos of him for an upcoming article for the “Stage Directors and Choreographers Society” journal. They needed “action” photos of Snehal as well as portraits of him for the publication.

As a former stage actor and performer, I kinda, sorta, know my way around stages and stage lighting. So when I was asked to photograph Snehal, thankfully, our set was literally the stage at EWP, complete with (almost) any lights I wanted – so long as they were already part of the current production! Of course, I brought my own lighting, which was going to be used as the key, fill, and rim, but the EWP lights were just a happy bonus! Moral of the story – always bring your own lights!

My initial plan was to do three full set-ups, using no less than my Paul C. Buff Parabolic umbrella and a fill or two. Our first set was the stage complete with a staircase prop-piece that we were able to use and re-position for our shoot. Here’s what the set-up looked like with my para:

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait,

 

My plan was to have Snehal sit or stand on the staircase, and have my parabolic light him as the key. I added the diffusion panel to soften the light a bit (personal preference for this shoot). Here’s what it looked like after I set up my light(s):

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait,

 

AMAZING light huh?!!! Right out of the box!!! I literally hit it out of the park! Woo hoo!!!! [Packs up and leaves; not before dropping his mic].

Yup, this was what I got from the set-up above. Grade “C-” or even a “D”. Then again, my Einstein strobe inside my parabolic wasn’t set to what I really wanted, but I thought that I’d be getting a little bit more light than just this! Guess not. Nonetheless, this was an easy fix. I figured I’d meter the scene once I had Snehal in place, and my main/key light would be just fine.

The next thing I noticed was that most likely, we would lose Snehal’s shape due to the dark, unlit stair background. So, I decided to add a little hair/rim light at the very top of the stairs, clamped to a railing on the set. Here’s what it looked like:

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait,

 

With the addition of this hair/rim light, I knew that we could separate Snehal and give him some nice lighting to set him apart from the background. But wait! There’s more! I couldn’t just leave it solid white! It’s a theater for goodness sake! I added a purple gel to  simulate the stage lighting surrounding him, and to give the photo a little pop of color:

 

 

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait,

 

These images are straight out of the camera BTW, with no processing. You can see how the purple gel adds the “flavor” of the photo now.

 

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait,

 

Put all these elements together, and voila! A perfect photo!!!! Woo hoo… wait… what the?!!! That’s right folks, still no cigar. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to turn on some of the existing stage lights (the light tower to the right of the above photo), and the LED strip to the top. Despite all this, I still have a deep shadow on the right of Snehal’s face.

Now, some people may like this contrasty look. Deep shadows to add drama to the shot. But as you can see, this wasn’t a mysterious, dramatic set-up. This was for a magazine, so we needed something a little brighter, and more lit. So what do you do when this happens? Add another light! That’s all! I don’t have a photo of it, but I added a bare strobe to camera left, on the floor pointing straight at Snehal to fill in those shadows. You can see the highlight from this strobe in Snehal’s eyes in the finished photos below. Here’s what I got:

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait,

 

Ta da!!! Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. I knew I could adjust that fill light to open up the shadows a bit more on the right side of Snehal’s face, so I was good to go from here.

So, from the first photo I showed you, to the previous one, I adjusted all my settings, got it to where I wanted them to be, and here’s what we made, working the “scene” a little:

 

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

 

Simple and easy right?!! All done within a matter of seconds! Yeah RIGHT! That’s why you arrive early to a session so you can work out the details before you bring in the talent. Thankfully I didn’t make Snehal wait too long as the entire set-up probably took about 15 minutes max. That’s what I get from all the weddings I’ve done – rush rush RUSH!!!

From there, I basically applied the same principles to my next set-up, Snehal in the audience. Here’s the BTS and one of the final photos:

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

Note the strobe in the background for fill/fim (used the same gel as last time), and my humongous PCB Parabolic camera left. (Excuse the iPhone photo of this BTS)

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

There you have it! Easy peasy. We worked this set-up for a short stint, and got some really great photos. I have to say that it’s easy to do your job when you have such great talent in front of you!

 

 

 

The last set-up we did was a headshot done outside the theater in open shade. Sure, open shade is fine and all, but when you go that extra step to make it a better photo, you get BETTER results. Here was our set-up:

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

 

Here’s the shot without my umbrella for fill/separation – okay, but kind of “blah” light wise:

 

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

Still works right? Even lighting, exposure works, but there’s really no “zing” to it. Sure, I could “photoshop” it, but only amateurs think that way, GET IT RIGHT IN CAMERA!

Add the umbrella in the previous photo, direct your subject to “squinch” his eyes for dramatic effect, take the shot again, LIGHTLY touch it up in post, and you get THIS result instead:

 

2015, m palma photography, bts, behind the scenes, paul c buff parabolic umbrella, stage, portrait, east west players

 

Which photo would you choose?

There you have it folks! Another “anatomy of a shoot” post. Hope it helped you “see” better, and get an idea of how I light things. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or drop me a message, Facebook or otherwise.

A HUGE thanks to Snehal Desai, Kat Carrido, Andy Lowe, and East West Players for the opportunity. Great team = great results!

Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by again :)

Mike