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!

February 26, 2015 in Family, Personal

This past week, I attended the funeral of my Uncle Ben, my dad’s brother, in San Diego – Mira Mesa to be exact. I spent half my life there during my summers and weekends, going to the beach, hanging out with my cousins, and generally having the type of fun that any teen-ager and young adult would have. We’re talking about long days of surfing, looking for parties at night, and the occasional jaunt down to Tijuana just for the heck of it. You name it, and we probably did it. Those were my young, joyous, and carefree years, times I look back to ever so fondly. All of which helped me become who I am today.

Wherever and whatever we did back then, we always had to go back “home” somewhere, and for those times in San Diego, it was on Summerdale Road, at my cousin Alex’s house. There he lived with my younger cousin Jennifer (his sister), his mom Auntie Fe,  and his dad, Uncle Ben.

We were your typical teen-agers, only thinking about what fun we can have at any given moment; seeing what was going on with our friends, or what the surf was going to be like. Simpler times. But the one person who always kept us in check at Al’s house was Uncle Ben.

Uncle Ben was the spitting image of my own dad, just a tad older and taller. He was always pretty jovial and inviting, just living life in his humble home in suburban San Diego. I always saw him as a traditional, old school, filipino man, a true immigrant who made his way to the USA along with his own siblings, making a life for himself, and doing whatever was needed to make it work. He wasn’t flashy, or outspoken, or the life of the party. He didn’t seem to value expensive things, just whatever he could afford. He was usually reserved, and carried himself with an air of ease and calm, and when he talked he used his deep voice to let you know what was on his mind. He was well liked and loved by many, spending a lot of time with his siblings and friends. I think nothing mattered more to him than family and friends.

For Alex and I, whenever he would call out for either of us, it was in that same deep voice that made you think “Oh $h!t, we better go see what your dad wants!”. And for rambunctious teens, it was usually because we needed to do some house chores  we forgot about. Looking back on it, we definitely didn’t want to do any of it, but thank goodness Uncle Ben made sure we did. Because I was technically a “guest”, I never really got in trouble or expected to do the stuff Alex had to, but I always made sure I did my own share so as to not get on his bad side! Besides, like everyone else, if you did something wrong at a relative’s house, the rest of the family heard about it, and you were blackballed or labeled! Lovingly of course :)

Aside from his occasional tongue lashings (the deserved kind!), Uncle Ben kept to himself. He loved to cook, work on stuff at the house, sit back and relax watching “Nat’l Geographic”, or as mentioned during his funeral mass, hang out in his open garage and watch the world go by. His quiet nature made you respect him and somehow fear him as well, but deep down you knew he was on your side. Anytime he would yell at you, you probably deserved it. I definitely did, albeit, due to guilt by association whenever my cousin Al was in trouble. But that’s how it was on Summerdale Rd.

Uncle Ben was always cool about me staying there. Never made me feel un-welcomed. I could walk in and out, even after a long stints away, I could walk back in and it would feel like “home” again, where time didn’t pass. At one point he garnered the nickname the “Benster”, coined by our other cousin Joe. We laughed our @$$es off that day, and the name stuck, even at his gravesite ceremony.

I’ll miss Uncle Ben. I wasn’t able to see him during the last months of his life, but I’ll always remember him as the jovial giant that he was, and how he kept us in line, and just made growing up in San Diego ever so memorable. He truly was an icon of my youth, as all the important people in my life are, but this one stood tall and strong, like the gentle, quiet giant he was. I’ll always be grateful for his loving sternness, his perpetual hospitality, and for treating me like one of his own kids. He truly was one of the greats.

Take care Uncle Ben, rest in peace, and thanks.



MP Grad 93

 Left to right – Uncle Ben (The “Benster”), Auntie Fe (his wife), my dad, Me, my brother J.J., and my other Uncle Ben.

Taken during my 1993 USC Graduation.

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!!!!





















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.










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.


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!





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










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!
















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.





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




J. Lee_2-3-2015_MPalmaPhotography.com-110




J. Lee_2-3-2015_MPalmaPhotography.com-203




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!



Happy Wednesday everyone! We’re in the final week of the first month of the new year! Whoa! Seriously, as we get older, time sure does fly by faster. Or is it just me? Regardless of how quickly the days are going by, I hope as always that everything is going great for you, AND that your new year’s resolutions are still intact, and going according to plan. Can I get an amen?! Anyone? Anyone…? LOL!

Since my last post, I have been on a tear trying out new stuff to help my photography eye grow and to get better at this thing called “making” photographs, vs. just “taking” them. With the help of my good buddy Farouk, (a down to earth, great soul and personality guy! Who is single BTW ladies – LOL), we did a James Dean inspired shoot last Friday. Farouk kinda has the James Dean look, so, with the help of some easy wardrobe (jeans, white T-shirt, jacket), and some props (motorcycle and truck), we set out to MAKE some fun and inspired images, in homage to the “Giant” and “Rebel” himself.

First off, I want to say thanks once again to my other good buddy Felix V. for allowing us the use of his property and bike and truck! Much appreciated bro-ham! Felix has a small array of vintage cars and trucks, which made for a great backdrop. Without him, we would have just strolled the streets until we saw one parked. Ha!

We started off with Farouk on the motorcycle, with some Ray-Ban Aviator shades. I had him leaning up against the bike while I set up my Einstein strobe with Beauty Dish, situated to camera left. The sun was still up, but fading relatively fast at about 4:00pm. I used the sun to rim light him from the back, while my strobe added a bit more pop on his shadowed side. I chose to use the beauty dish without any diffusion because I wanted a harder, more contrasty light. Besides, for men, it works better, especially in this situation. With the help of the online lighting diagram creator, I was able to graph out how I set up my light to show you how I got the looks we shot. Big ups to the site for providing such a valuable resource!

Here’s the set up for the motorcycle shot. They didn’t have a motorcycle in the background selections, so you won’t see one, but just imagine that it’s there.


2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer


The sun, as mentioned was to Farouk’s back, acting as a rim. From this set-up, I shot from the front and even moved over to my right, and in front of the bike for other angles. The bike was perpendicular to my shooting position in the diagram. Here are the results:



2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer




2015_M Palma Photography-2




2015_M Palma Photography-3




2015_M Palma Photography-4




2015_M Palma Photography-6



You can see where my strobe is coming from and the direction of where the sun light is at.

From this, we went over to Felix’s truck and set up the lights this way:


2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer



From this position, the sun was still to camera right, but fading rather quickly, so my strobe provided almost all of the illumination. I also “skimmed” the position of the face of the beauty dish so as to work with the edges vs. the full face, giving me “softer” shadows – kinda. As you will see, the light is still “soft’, yet contrasty, but then again, that’s the nature of a beauty dish. There was also a near sheer drop off behind me, so I had to kinda of be careful. More so for my equipment vs. me! I can heal, my camera can’t! LOL!! Oh, and as mentioned, we used a truck, and not a shiny new sports car as the diagram implies. Maybe next time! Here are the results, some of my most favorite from the series:


2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer




2015_M Palma Photography-8



2015_M Palma Photography-9




The quality of light coming from the Einstien is incredible! I was going for a “magazine” type of look, so I upped my shutter speed to close to my sync speed, but wanted some ambient still. My aperture was at about f/5.6. I just love the texture on the truck and the contrasty nature of the light on Farouk. Sure the shadows are not that soft, but it doesn’t hurt the photos in my opinion, cause we were going for a masculine, tough-guy, type of look. The beauty dish works well here.

Finally, as the sun set over the horizon, I knew that I had some ambient light left to work with, although no more rim light. So, I used my set-up to act as the primary light source, using a slower shutter speed to get a bit more of that ambient into the exposure. No diagram with this one, but you can tell the direction of light:



2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer



2015_M Palma Photography-11



I still wanted to mimic the direction of the sun light so I placed the strobe/beauty dish about 8-10 feet away from Farouk with these two photos. You could see the long reddish rays of the setting sun in the previous photo.

Once the waning rays of sunlight completely faded, I set up my light this way:




2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer


The sun in the diagram was placed there to let you know where it was setting. I went farther back with my lighting to create harsher shadows. Plus, I upped the power on the strobe as well to cover the distance I put it at, roughly 12 feet to the right of the camera. This time, the face of the beauty dish is angled directly towards Farouk’s face, and not skimming him like before. Here’s what we got:



2015, m palma photography, online lighting diagram creator, nikon, 70-200, einstein, beauty dish, male model, fashion, los angeles, photographer 2015_M Palma Photography-5


Notice how much more contrast there is between the highlights and shadows? There’s still detail in the dark areas, but the difference is more pronounced. The photo of Farouk on the motorcycle was placed there just to show the variety and wasn’t a part of this last series of him standing.




There you have it! My first blog post complete with lighting diagrams! I actually FORGOT to shoot some behind the scenes shots of my set-ups cause we were working against the fading sun, but I’ll remember to do that next time! I’m glad I had the opportunity to diagram it all out though to show you guys how the photos were created. I’m definitely going to do more of these in the future, so please check back to see what’s new!


Thanks again for Felix for the use of his place and for my awesome model Farouk. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of him on the blog in the future. And ladies, did I mention, he’s single? Cause he is. LOL! Check out his website here.

Lastly, (proud photographer moment!) I wanted to say how thrilled I am to have been chosen to photograph the wedding of my new clients Heather and Roger! Two of the sweetest and FUN people you would ever meet! They are getting married later this year in October! Woo hoo! We’re scheduled for an engagement shoot sometime between now and then, and I can’t wait for that session to take place, cause like I said, they’re so cool! Plus, in about two months time, I’m photographing yet another great couple, Michelle and Shannon. That’s going to be a blast as well! The E-session will take place shortly, and that’s going to be fun too!

Thanks again and as always for stopping by. Now go out and photograph something will you?!

See you next week!