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 'Photography'

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 Thursday everyone! This past weekend, I was given the honor and privilege to photograph the engagement session of good friends Michelle and Shannon for their upcoming wedding in less than two weeks! Yup, less than two weeks from now, we’ll be having even more fun photographing their big day! But before that, we were able to sit back, relax a bit, take our time, and photograph at the historic Pico House building in downtown Los Angeles, by Olvera Street. The Pico house itself has been around for over 100+ years and it was so cool to be able to photograph there, in the essentially empty building. We were given special permission to use the building’s inner courtyard for our shoot, and it turned out to be a fantastic session. I was LITERALLY giddy the entire time! Plus, Michelle and Shannon are two of the cutest people you’ll ever meet, and boy can that Michelle rock a photo session! Seriously! Love it when my brides to be are just so free and comfortable in front of a camera. Shannon was a rock star too, but let’s face it, the women tend to rock more than the men. Just saying!

The surrounding areas next to the Pico House are also very picturesque as well, and afterwards, we took a few photos in front of the Chinese American Museum (CAM). Shannon and Michelle have an affiliation with the museum, and because of them, we were able to photograph at the Pico House, so why not photograph the CAM as well? Plus, the brick building and the light we were getting were spectacular!

I had so much fun on this shoot, and want to thank Michelle and Shannon for being such great models for the day. Loved what they did! A big thanks to CAM and Pico House as well for letting us photograph in and around the building. What a beautiful venue!

And now, here is a sampling of our work from Saturday. Enjoy!

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

Love this series!

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

Their wedding day shoes are going to rock even harder than these! So dapper though!

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

A quiet moment :)

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

 

2015, m palma photography, e-session, engagement session, pico house, chinese american museum, downtown los angeles, olvera street, los angeles photographer, vsco, modern, fun, energetic

Thanks again you two :) So excited for your big day!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by :) See you next time!

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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2015, m palma photography, headshots, actor, male, los angeles, cesar cipriano, mpalmaphotography.com, profot ring light

 

 

 

 

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

Hiya folks! Happy first week of February! How’s it goin’? Now that we’re officially out of the first month of the new year, it’s time to get going and keep up with all those goals we set for ourselves on Jan. 1st. Remember those?

As of late, I’ve been working on a lot of personal projects – trying out new lighting set-ups in studio, practicing new techniques for my weddings, etc., and as an added bonus, I have been posting my in-studio set-ups on this blog in the hope that it inspires people to maybe try them out, or perhaps get inspired and go out and photograph. For the longest time, I always searched the internet for sites that posted/diagramed their lighting set-ups, so that perhaps I could try and learn from them, and I’m finally doing it myself for those out there who are trying to do the same!

I know that some of you are also thinking “Hey, it’s Jully again in all his photos”. Yes, but, when you’re working with someone collaboratively who is totally onboard to help you out and contribute to your “vision”, why not continually work with that person. Besides, she’s a joy to work with and easy on the eyes (I know you feel the same, as my web stats seem to confirm that!). So if you’re tired of seeing Jully in my posts, I won’t feel bad at all if you stop reading and click on to another site. Seriously. I understand. (Kinda).

If you’re still here, then you’re in for another treat!

As mentioned in prior posts, I’ve been inspired lately by fashion photographer Clay Cook, of Clay Cook Photography. Clay posts “point of view” Youtube videos online to show you what it’s like photographing on a small set with models. What’s cool about the videos is that you get to see him working in a relatively small space, and get to see his lighting set-ups first hand. Plus, you see the kinds of results he’s getting with said set-up.

With that said, I once again tried out Clay’s lighting using my own minimal equipment and got to shooting! It’s really fun to do this kind of stuff and see what you’ll get. It’s like a recipe, but you get to put your own “magic” touches to it to make it your own.

With the help of my lovely assistant/model/muse Jully, here is the diagram and set-up, followed by our results.

 

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I first diagramed the set-up via my trusty little lighting book and then set it up:

 

2015, m palma photography. lighting diagram, lighting set up, clay cook lighting, fashion, los angeles, einstein, studio, v flats

 

 Originally, I used my beauty dish without the sock diffuser connected, but I felt that the light quality I was getting was a bit too crisp and contrasty. I decided to add the diffusion to soften the light a little and decrease the contrast in the shadows. In retrospect, I could have lifted the reflector on the floor for a bit more fill, but I’m still okay with the results.

As you can see, I have very little space to work with, but you can’t tell by the results.

 

 

2015, M Palma Photography, fashion, lighting diagram, los angeles photographer, einstein strobe, model, asian, female, clay cook inspired, On One

 

 

 

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What I love most about these photos, and please pardon my geekiness, is that the rim light coming from camera left is faint enough to not notice it, but strong enough to add impact and separation to the photo! Without it, I think the photos would lose a bit of definition and contrast from the background.

There you have it! Another installment of my behind the scenes, lighting set-ups and diagrams. I’ll be doing more of these in the future, so do drop by and check them out. Also, if you have any questions about the lights and set-ups I’m using, feel free to drop me a line!

Lastly, if you live in the L.A. area, and are interested in modeling or collaborating on a photo project with me, also drop me a line so we can meet up and discuss. It would be fun!

Thanks everyone, and have a great first week of February. See you next time!

Mike

 

Happy Tuesday everyone! Hope your week is going rather swimmingly :)  For a lot of us, this is a short week due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, honoring a great civil rights leader. Hope everyone took a minute to appreciate what he did, as well as countless others who have helped make our country what it is today :)

As for the title of this post, I’ve been wanting to do this type of entry for quite some time now, and perhaps in the past, I’ve tried to, but not as comprehensively as I would have liked. I’m going to try and remedy that with my first personal project shoot of the new year, a lighting test shoot, inspired by a fellow photographer I follow and admire, Clay Cook. As a professional photographer, I am constantly scouring the web for inspiration and education in my never ending search for that “perfect” photograph I will someday make, which will most definitely have to have great light! Just recently, I found some of Clay’s posts via the website Fstoppers, detailing his own fashion shoots using a POV camera. From those videos and his insights, I was able to try out one of his lighting set-ups (finally!) here in my small home studio. Ironically, he shoots all his projects in his small space as well, so it was easy to relate and kind of replicate his lighting and process. Kinda.

Now, I’ve always been a firm believer that cameras or lights don’t make great pictures, PHOTOGRAPHERS do. Just as pens don’t write amazing stories or novels, nor do paint brushes create beautiful paintings. (Yet, if I had a nickle for every “Wow, what kind of camera is that? It takes great pictures!”… Aiyai yai! You know the rest.)  What’s great about Clay and other great photographers is that you don’t need the super fancy equipment to make great photos. Plus, in my case, I’m sadly far removed from ordering my Ferrari La Ferrari, so I’ll just have to create beautiful images using this thing that’s 12 inches behind the camera, my brain.

So, when I’m inspired to photograph my own personal work, I call my camera muse Jully in to help me experiment and learn lighting techniques, all of which transfer rather nicely to my wedding and portrait work, so I’m killing three birds with one stone in a sense. Thanks to Jully as usual for being my human test mannequin once again.

My set-up was inspired by Clay’s set up in his great on-going “First Person Shooter” videos. In it, you will see that he uses two black V-flats and with a dark background surrounding his model, and then lights her using two light sources on camera left. One larger diffused umbrella/octo/photek softlighter to illuminate the model’s face, and then a strip bank under that to add detail and illumination to the clothing she has on. The V-Flats will suck up a lot of that light which will give the final image some nice shadows and contrast. Clay has a “hot light” softbox facing the camera, and I’m not sure what that was for, so I didn’t use it. Here’s my set-up, complete with model and stand-in Jully, all in one, with a special guest appearance by our new dog, Baxter.

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, Los Angeles photographer, Silverlake, fashion, lighting set-up, tutorial, Clay Cook inspired, model, dog, Einstein parabolic,

 

 

I don’t have a dark enough seamless background, so I used a gray one that I had lying around. As you can also see, I only have one black v-flat, so I used my Calumet branded black panel to serve as my camera left flat. My Einstein Parabolic with front diffuser is at the Rembrandt position (45 degrees to the left and 45 degrees up), and my 24×24″ gridded softbox powered by my new Lumopro flash serves as my lower body fill. It sits directly beneath my parabolic.

As you can see, my space is rather small, and not as long length wise, as what Clay has, but in the end, no one will know. Well, you now know, but otherwise, who cares?! From the set, I’m roughly about 8-10 feet away tethered to my Macbook using Lightroom. I’m using a cheap, no-name camera, that starts with an “N” and has the numbers 810 on it. Probably the area code where it’s made. I don’t know. Not sure what my settings on my lights were, but I basically metered using my eyes. I started at about 1/125 at f/5.6 and went from there, seasoning to taste. My go-to lens is the 70-200mm which I used for this shoot.

Now, despite “copying” a lighting set-up, I knew well in advance that there is no way I was ever going to replicate Clay’s work, style, or photographs, but that’s what’s great about getting inspired – you try new stuff and then add it to your own style and creative development. So there’s no shame in copying, cause no two things will ever be alike! Besides, I’m giving mad props to my source Clay, so no plagiarism involved.

Here’s one more look at my set-up from a slightly different angle:

 

 

 

2015 M Palma Photography, Los Angeles photographer, Silverlake, fashion, lighting set-up, tutorial, Clay Cook inspired, model, dog, Einstein parabolic,

 

 

With this rather spartan and rag tag set-up, I went to work and began photographing and got some pretty cool images. Again, this was just a lighting test and a rather impromptu one, so it’s not stylized whatsoever, but we were able to get some solid results nonetheless. Plus it helps to work with creative people like Jully who can add to the creative aspect of the shoot. Here’s what we came up with. There were more, but I wanted to share these three photos with everyone:

 

 

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2015, M Palma Photography, fashion, vsco, los angeles photographer, clay cook, einstein flash

 

 

These final three images were edited in Lightroom and OnOne. And yes, Baxter wears t-shirts.

And that’s it! My first set-up tutorial/bts post for the year. Again, I have to thank Clay Cook Photography for posting his amazing videos on YouTube and inspiring all of us, thanks Clay!

There are a few other set-ups that I’m going to try in the near future, so check back to see how I’m doing, and how I’m getting inspired. If not for that, check back in for either my photo muse Jully, or our cool dog Baxter. He selects and wears his own t-shirts daily.

Have a great week everyone and as always, thanks for checking in :)

Mike