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!

Archive for 'Headshots'

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:

 

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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):

 

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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:

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

 

 

 

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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:

 

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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)

 

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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:

 

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

 

 

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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:

 

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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

 

February 18, 2015 in Headshots, Photography

Happy Wednesday folks! How’s it going? How was Valentine’s day for you? Attached or not, hope you had a great weekend. Plus, it was President’s Day weekend as well! Double whammy for some! As for me, I attended a beautiful vineyard wedding in Temecula, Calif. Trust me, it was tough and weird being a “guest” vs the principal photographer at a wedding. Although, I did put my “eye” aside (kinda) and enjoyed the day without any pressure or responsibility. Well, other than to enjoy the day, and the delicious food! So it was a win/win for me either way. LOL!

Last week, I was honored and thrilled to photograph a good buddy of mine that I only get to see almost just once a year, at the East West Players dinner gala. Over the years, Cesar and I have been friends, along with his gorgeous and equally amazing wife, Anna, but never really had the time to sit back, relax and “hang”. That all changed when Cesar asked me to do his new headshots, something he hasn’t done in a few years. (Then again, he’s yet another one of my friends that DON’T age. Sheesh. Where can I get those types of genes?!)

So we spent a solid afternoon photographing him. I was struggling to get him to smile, look relaxed, and to let his guard down! Plus, he was so shy in front of the camera! (You know I’M KIDDING, right? He’s the exact opposite!) Photographing Cesar was easy, fun, and mucho bueno! He’s the type of guy who can take selfies and get great shots straight out of the camera (or phone). Thank goodness he doesn’t do that already, as I would be out of a job!

All my headshot sessions comprise of commercial and theatrical looks. Commercial being the more “happy” and “smiley” photos that exemplify the “I can sell brand X to you cause I’m cool like that”, and theatrical being the “character” photos that each actor can portray (doctor, lawyer, etc.) Here are a few of our photos from our session. See if you can tell how “difficult” it was to work with this super shy, and rather non-attractive, out of shape guy. LOL!!!!

 

 

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At the end of every headshot session, I always leave room and time for just some fun shenanigans. For those of you who have shot with me, this is the portion where I just ask you some off the wall types of questions, and ask that you react to them with HUGE expressions! Once again, I had pry these looks and emotions from Cesar, with every trick I have in my book to work with introverts such as him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There you have it! A huge thanks to Cesar C. for asking me to photograph him, and to his amazing wife Anna for allowing him (LOL!). Much success to you bro-ham! You’ll definitely see more of him in my portfolio in the future. I’ll just have to really coax it out of him. Sheesh!

Have a great week everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

Mike

Happy Summer gang! Okay, maybe it’s NOT summer, but temps sure do feel it. It’s supposed to be 88 degrees today here in LA. What the?! I’m trying to keep cool. Weird. Seriously weird weather.

This week has been a little hectic, but I wanted to share with you all a cool swapmeet find I purchased last Sunday, and two shoots I had this week. I’ll go more into detail about all of these in future posts.

The first of the things I want to show you, is my 113 year Kodak Vest Pocket camera. A real beaut! Picked it up for a sweet $40.00 at the Rosebowl swapmeet last week. I could just imagine where it came from, and what kinds of images it took during its prime. Here it is!

 

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They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to! If you’re interested in reading a little more about this centenarian,  click on this link.

 

 

Then, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to photograph a good friend of mine, Cesar, for his most recent round of headshots. Great stuff BTW! Afterwards, as with all my sessions, we played around and got some fun photos using a Profoto ring light. Love the look! Thanks Cesar!

 

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And finally, the week started with a lifestyle session with Jaclyn K. of “Reiki with Jaclyn”. She’s like a 10th degree blackbelt in Reiki (if there is such a thing!). So if you need this type of work, do look her up. You can click here to find out more. Plus, she’s going to be updating her website soon, and you’ll be sure to find more of our collaboration with each other on it.

 

 

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Why yes, that is Cesar again in the photo above :)

 

 

 

And that’s it for now. Sorry for the short post this week. Have a great week, and a happy Valentine’s day, single or not! :) Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

Oh, and a huge thanks to Cesar and Jaclyn for allowing me to photograph them this week! Great peeps!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy second week of the Sochi Winter Olympics! Anyone watching? Anyone?! Regardless of what you’re watching, I hope it’s good!

This past weekend, I had the distinct honor of updating our good friends’ daughter Dyllen’s headshot photos. Dyllen first had her headshots taken with me two years ago, and even back then I was really impressed with her poise and her confidence (comes from great parenting!) This time through, now at the ripe old age of 12 years, once again, that same confidence with a little added sassiness came through, which made for another successful shoot. Not only did we create her standard headshot photos, but, because of her uber-stylist mom Cindera, we added some fashion-flair to some of the other photos, which of course, Dyllen rocked like a pro! Seriously, can you say “Gap” ad? She can!

My sincerest thanks to Cindera, (and Ryan) and Dyllen for giving me this chance to update Dyllen’s portfolio. I’m grateful for the chance, and am so happy to see how awesome a young lady Dyllen is turning into with each new photo session. Thanks you guys! Now go book ‘em Dyllen!

Enjoy our photos :)

 

2014, February, M Palma Photography, headshots, kids, fashion, los angeles photographer, modern, fun, energetic, d700, vsco

 

 

 

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This is Brian T.

Actor. Entrepreneur.

Stylish and cool.

Nuff said. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Have a great week everyone! Thanks for stopping by :)

 

Mike