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 'Portraits'

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

 

One of the best things about being a professional photographer is that you get to work with a lot of people. Actors, company heads, doctors, lawyers, entertainers, artists, etc., all of whom are interesting. You get to learn new things about their respective professions, learn about them as people, and most importantly, you get to meet someone new, someone interesting, and you get to take their photograph. When you add all these qualities up and wrap them up in a family, especially your own family, it makes for an even more special session! As was the case this past weekend, as I was asked to take the family photos of my own cousins and uncle, in beautiful San Diego, a place that I hold dear to my heart, as I spent a lot of time there growing up back BEFORE the internet! (Yes, those days DID exist!).

Now, if you ask any of my cousins, they’ll all tell you that I rarely get to see them. Or that we only see one another (sadly and as of late) at funerals. So I was definitely DUE to go back down and visit everyone.  I was there a month ago for the funeral of my Uncle Ben, and for only one day, so getting to go down for a weekend for a “happy” occasion made for a great time.

I got there Saturday afternoon around 2:00pm, after leaving L.A. at 11:00am, thinking that it would ONLY take me 2 hours (yeah right!; note to self: don’t drive to SD on Saturday at 11:00am). But once I got there, it felt good to be around everyone again. Felt like old times :) I relaxed a bit, got something to eat from an old mexican food haunt, and hung out with my new nephew Andy, affectionately nicknamed “Guppy”. Sure, I may sound like I’m being biased, BUT, Andy is one of the happiest babies I know! Seriously always smiling, laughing, and in a good mood! Sure, he got fussy here and there, but a lot less than a lot of other kids. This kid is just one happy baby! A true joy to be around!

Soon after, we packed up the entire gang, along with my other cousins Tod and Johanna (designated assistants to M Palma Photography for a day), and headed  to downtown S.D., to the New Children’s Museum. There’s this really cool play area with a chalk wall where kids and families draw pictures on. My cousin Marianne chose this location cause she wanted an urban look to the photos, and you know me, I love urban backdrops!

The cool thing about Marianne (Mae as we call her) and her family is that they’re fun people. Especially husband ‘Pen (Stephen). He fits in well with the Palmas with his wit and sense of humor. Plus, Mae’s dad, my Uncle Pete, is a fun guy too! If you ask him, he’ll beat you at every game or endeavor ever created! (Probably will too!). We always have a lot of laughs with him. He’s easy to hang out with cause he’s down with everything.

So what you’re about to see are the fruits of our labor. Some silliness, family warmth, funny faces, but most importantly, their love and closeness. I had such a great time photographing everyone, that I forgot to get into the picture! (Darn it!).

At one point, when I decided to photograph just Mae and Pen, a group of tourists (or seniors) decided that they wanted to be in the photograph as well! I think they thought I was doing an engagement session. We definitely obliged! After that, a dog happily decided to walk into the frame as well. I made sure I was going to get that photo! You’ll see Pen’s reactions and playfulness in those photos as well as in the other ones as well.

Most importantly, I like to think that in the future, when the “Guppy” grows up, he’ll see these photos and think to himself how cool Uncle Mike was for taking these photos (LOL).  If not, he’ll get to see how we all spent a beautiful afternoon in San Diego, a long, long, time ago, when he was young.

(A side moral to this story is: Get your family photos done! If not by me (LOL- darn it!), then find someone to do them for you! And when you do, PRINT THEM!!! Make canvases, acrylics, enlargements, keychains, coffee cups, t-shirts, blankets, etc., you name it! Cause you can’t experience or relive the memories of everyone, or that special day if you have to turn something “on” just to view them! Just do it! (Okay, forgive my soap-box moment there, I just want you all to have some amazing photo memories all over you homes).)

A huge thanks to my cousins, Mae, Pen, Andy, Allie, and Uncle Pete; and to Tod and Johanna to helping out as well :) Love you guys mucho!!! Let’s make this an annual thing, shall we?

 

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

 

 

 

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

See Pen in the background? He’s really shy.

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

I’d say the entire clan are introverts. It was tough. LOL!

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

Allie :)

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

The “Guppy” himself, Andrew (Andy).

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

I guess that makes Pen “the Big Fish.”

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

We had that sign especially made for this portrait session.

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

From these two…

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

… came these two!

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

But not before this guy (and my late aunt, Tita Becky :) )

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

Tourists.

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

Hey! Who let that dog into the picture?!!!!

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

In the end, this is what it’s all about :)

2015, m palma photography, family portraits, family, portrait session, san diego, new children's museum san diego, filipino family, los angeles photographer, nikon d810, strobes, vsco, alien skin exposure, kids

Or is it this?

Thanks again guys :) Glad I was there to do this for you. Till next time!

Kuya Michael

 

 

 

 

Technical info: Nikon D810, SB900 strobe in umbrella, controlled via Nikon CLS. Available light; reflector where applicable. Thanks Thaddo for the extra hands (you too Johanna!)

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

Happy Thursday everyone! I was absent from my blog last week cause I made the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to attend the yearly Wedding and Portrait Photographers Int’l conference. It’s where pros and enthusiasts alike get our leaning on, see new equipment, have a great time, and just do everything photography for nearly 24 hours a day! (Like we don’t do that already!). It’s such a great conference, and is open to anyone interested in the business, art and retail of photography. Like I said, you don’t have to be a pro, just an enthusiast! Although you WILL meet the top of the tops of the industry when you do attend. It’s so inspiring, so check it out! WPPI.

After all the partying was done, I was back in L.A. to get back to work with a new friend’s website/lifestyle photos. She’s a reiki practitioner/master, by the name of Jaclyn, and is an awesome person! We originally started working on her images about a month ago, and we’re still not entirely done! It’s great when you get to work with cool people. It doesn’t feel like work ;p

We photographed around the arts district last Friday here in L.A., using available light. When I first started out, I used to be be “afraid” of “harsh” light (contrasty, mid-day type), but now, I embrace it, as light is just light. It comes in so many forms that you use it the way you want your images to look. So, for all your photographers out there, don’t be afraid of mid-day light!

Here are a few of the photos we made last week.

http://www.reikiwithjaclyn.com/,   2015, m palma photography, lifestyle, vsco, alien skin exposure 7, nikon d810, downtown l.a., reiki, jacklyn Kalkhurst, los angeles photographer

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I’m still catching up on stuff from last week, so check back next week for more from this shoot and other new stuff coming up, like a fun engagement session coming up this weekend, at a historic building in downtown L.A.

Thanks for clicking by everyone! See you soon,

Mike

Check out Jaclyn’s website here.

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!

 

2015, m palma photography, headshots, profoto ring light, actor, cesar cipriano, los angeles

 

 

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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.

 

 

2015, m palma photography, headshots, profoto ring light, actor, cesar cipriano, los angeles

 

 

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