PM is for Paul Marie

A few months ago a long time friend of mine came to me with the need of some photography. He and his business partner are launching a new clothing company to be out in the first quarter of 2011 titled "Paul Marie". Below are some of my favorites from the shoot. Tomorrow, we will be doing another shoot for Paul Marie and my videographer Chris Wojcik, will be there to capture the story behind the scenes. We have some pretty wild shots planned involving roller skates so you won't want to miss it. I will also be doing a live Facebook/Twitter video update in the morning, shot, edited and uploaded all via my iPhone. If you aren't stalking me already I recommend it. Go here: and

5 Flat and Brown

Last week I had the pleasure of working with local hip hop duo 5 Flat & Brown. 5 Flat and I met at the Dice photo shoot I did last winter. He's a friend of Dice and helped shoot the behind the scenes video from the Dice shoot.

He came to me with the name of the album being "Tuition: The Mixtape". He had some great ideas and in the end we ended up with some great plans for the project. I'm doing the whole shabang for these guys from the photos to the design for the album. Part of our deal was I agreed to throw in some promo shots from the day since these fellas don't have any professional pics. I bring you those today.

We ended up having a really good time at the shoot and things went so well we ended up with a lot more photos than we planned for. My thoughts are, I would rather have them being used than sit on my computer, so I did some extras for these dudes.

I really dig the music these guys are making and look forward to hearing the final product. Check out a few tracks from their upcoming mixtape here. I will also be posting a behind the scenes video from the shoot in near future along with the final shots for the album.

For now, here are my favorite shots from the day. Let me know what you think about the feel of these.

Damned by the D3!

So as you read in my previous posts, I had the pleasure of borrowing a Nikon D3 from Jetta Productions. I got to take it home over the weekend and ended up shooting two events plus some good old cat/girlfriend test shots. I have to say, this camera is freaking awesome! It's not only this camera, most of the new cameras out there are pretty awesome. I shoot on a Nikon D200 but have been cursed by the beautiful images produced at high ISOs like 2200 on the D3. I say cursed because now I want a new camera after only a year of shooting on my D200. I usually try not to get caught up in the gear trends but being able to shoot in low light without flash is something very useful in the photography trade. Anyways, I just wanted to share a couple of shots I really liked of Priya (my girlfriend) and Bosh (our feline companion). These were both shot at 2200 ISO. They just have such an old school natural feel to them that I love. Saving starts now.

Oh yeah! I also started a fan page on Facebook for my work! Look over to the right and click "like" if you want to be cool like everyone else!

March 2010 - Photo of the Month

Spring is in the air. Well, not so much this week like the last but it is officially here. The mountains have been getting pounded with snow the last few days which seems to be a spring time ritual here in the North West. I'm hoping to close out the year tomorrow and take advantage of some of the fresh fallen snow.

All snow aside, Priya and I just returned from a trip to the beautiful San Juan Islands. We stayed at a friends place in Friday Harbor and really enjoyed the dining, drinking, exploring and relaxing. Here are a few places that are worth checking out if you make it to the island. Downriggers is a great spot for delicious food and drinks with a brilliant view. Blue Water is a great casual spot for drinks and specials. Mt Young is a scenic hike with moderate effort to get to the top. Panoramic views of the islands, mountains and sea greet you as you approach the "summit". Which brings us to the Photo of the Month.

This was taken at the top of Mt Young looking west. The sun was just hovering above this lonely tree atop the rock and moss which makes up Mt Young. Something about this photo is majestic to me. It was just so perfect. It was like it was waiting for me at the top of the climb. I love the simplicity of the tree and the complexity of the layers of islands and sky. It was really a beautiful moment snapping this shot. Also, it really helped strengthen my recent discovery of harnessing the great feelings you have when you are enjoying something. I have been really trying to consciously feel the positive energy when accomplishing something. Whether it's a run, a bike ride, a climb, a meal, a laugh or editing a photo, I have been working on bottling up the feeling and storing it for a rainy day. Nothing great comes easy. When you reach the greatness, the hard work is almost always worth it. This is my way of not giving up and knowing the feeling will be unmatched by any other which really helps ease the pain of the journey. You can apply this to almost anything. (Mike tips back in his chair and strokes his goatee.)

I have a ton of shots I am working on which will be up with in a week or so. Which is a great door to my last point. My print shop is finally up and running!!! You no longer have to deal with me if you want prints. Just click on "prints" on my website and you will be directed to my SmugMug page which will have all my available prints in several different sizes for ordering. As of now, I only have the photos which are hanging at Greenlake Bar & Grill available for ordering but I will be adding more this week. Stop by and let me know what you think. It's all for you guys so your feedback is important. Is it easy to order from? Is it easy to navigate? Could it be better? Any comments are much appreciated.

Until next time!


February 2010 Photo of the Month

I'm finally posting my Photo of the Month on time! This month has been really eye opening. I've figured out that the busier I am, the better work I turn out and the more motivation I retain. I had a couple of slow days this last month and really had a hard time staying motivated to do any work. I've decided to make my schedule as full as possible and keep shooting whether I'm getting paid or not. I just need to keep shooting and getting better.

A couple of months ago I ran a contest on Facebook which offered a free photo shoot to the first 5 people who responded to my post. The contest was over quick and I found myself with 5 people who needed to find a slot in my schedule. Well I'm finally getting around to taking care of these shoots. A couple of weeks ago one of the winners (and good friend), Nick Thompson came over to my house and we set out for some creative shooting. We took a trip down to Goodwill and picked up an old typewriter and then got some old rope from my dad's house. We decided to do an office type shot and a hostage style shot. This was obviously the latter.

We dirtied up Nicks t shirt and wrapped him up with rope. Once I got the light just how I wanted it, I threw on a blind fold and duck taped his grill so he couldn't mouth off while I was shooting.

We had a really good time and all 10 hours of work that I have put into it were free of charge. Fact is, this is probably one of my favorite shots I have ever taken. If I let the money come between me and getting this shot, I would have never gotten this shot. This has sparked a lot of new motivations to start shooting things for free that I want to get paid for in the future.

Thanks to Nick for being such a good sport with the shoot!

Do you guys like it when I post camera info on how I shot it? I am trying to cater this blog to you so let me know.

Also, I recently started "tweeting" so if you're looking for more people to stalk you can follow me on twitter here.

Until next time,

- Mike

Think before you shoot.

Sometimes I forget how important it is to take my time when taking photos. There are so many things to consider when taking a photo; the lighting, the composition, obstructions, facial expressions, clothing, shadows and several other things.  Sometimes, I get caught up in the moment of having fun while working and realize later I made a mistake that will have to be fixed in post. Nobody is perfect and sometimes making mistakes can be good. For instance in these examples below, I learned some new tricks in Photoshop that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. These were some promo shots taken at Bellevue Community College a couple of weeks ago for some local musicians. I have never done the before and after thing and figured you guys might want to see some of the changes I make in post editing.



So in this shot, the guy really wanted to be in front of the door mainly because of the numbers. In hip hop, area codes are sacred. It's very important people know where you're from so he wanted me to put in the numbers "425" replacing the "444". The angles were way off! The lines weren't straight and that really bothered me. I used the Warp Transform tool to straighten up my lines. I felt like the white wall was really boring so I added a layer of a wall I snapped a while back, set it to a "Soft Light" setting and cleaned it up a bit. What did I learn here? Pay attention to angles. Don't be afraid to tell the client that the shot looks boring aside from the number bit, but do it in a positive manner suggesting putting in the are code in a different setting with more pop. That's why people hire us. It's not a bad thing to shut an idea down, but be nice about it and provide an alternative and explain why. It's their right to know.

Here is another shot that took a LOT of editing to make me happy.



Originally I thought the sculpture looked really cool. In the end, I hated it. It took away from my subjects. I used to several different blending, masking, erasing, cloning techniques to finally get this guy to look right. What did I learn here? Take more time to think about the shot. Focus on the composition first, then let everything follow. If the composition is good, the foundation is good. Then, you can paint your picture with whatever colors you want.

What do you guys think about the changes? Do you like them? Do you think they were worth all the time I spent on fixing them? Thanks for the feedback!

January Photo of the Month

Holy smokes! These last two months have been the best two months for business. I've been working 7 days a week for the last month or so putting in 10 hour days. It's been awesome and tiring at the same time. I got a bunch of new gear with my tax return and can't wait to really put it to use in the next few weeks.

This is the second month now I've been more than 10 days late on my blogging... It's my way of making you believe I'm busy...

Anyways, this month was so amazing for shooting. I had three projects with musicians to do their photos and album design. All are turning out really dope!

This photo was from the Dice photo shoot. I really wanted to post the behind the scenes video with it but I haven't had time to edit the clips yet. Oh well. The shoot went crazy well! Her project is titled "The Foundation" so we really wanted to get some cement and grime in the shoot. We got "access" to a construction site that I spotted which only the foundation had been laid. We also got access to use this wonderful garage in Phinney Ridge. We were brainstorming where to shoot if it rained and I started thinking dark grimey basements. We were strolling along 3rd Ave NW and came across some awesome grimey cement garages. We pulled over and knocked on the door to be greeted by a wonderful lady "Marie". She said "use it as much as you want just don't forget about me when your famous". How rad.

This was the biggest production I have dealt with yet. Tawnya aka Dice really put  a  lot into the shoot. It really made a huge difference in how the pictures turned out. The make up, the hair, the outfit and the energy. It was great! I really worked hard on this shoot and I think it shows.

I will be posting some more shots in the week to come along with the behind the scenes video.

Also, as I am writing this I am sending all the album design files to Copycats Media for her new project. I will be posting some links on where to hear and buy her new album very soon.

December 2009 Photo of the Month

Ok alright I know it's way passed the deadline for Photo of the Month for last month but the holidays just got too busy this year. I was actually taking a lot of photos but didn't have the time to figure out what represented December at it's true essence.

Well, Priya May is back for another December entry. This passed year was spent learning lighting techniques for portraits and figuring out how to best translate gorgeous landscapes. I spent countless hours messing with strobes, filters and Photoshop. I learned a ton and was able to showcase some of that last week at my first solo art show.

This year I want to start learning some new techniques and keep getting better at the ones I already know. A couple of months ago this guy posted on Flickr a blurb about using your camera's disadvantages to your advantage. My first thought was "this guy is a moron".  My second thought was "this guy is a genius!" His point was that the Nikon D200 (which I shoot with) has a terrible noise problem (the graininess or fuzzy look in a photo) at high ISOs. He is right. I always shoot at no higher than ISO 200 because of this. However, he recommended boosting the ISO to it's max to get an older film look to it. I tried it right after reading it and was amazed with the different look the camera processed. I loved it. It just has that old warm film feeling to it. I'm not going to start using this technique with clients right away but something tells me I will be able to add this to my bag of tricks in the future.

Moral of the story is, technology will keep evolving every minute. You can NEVER keep up with it. Rather than getting caught up with what you don't have, get caught up with what you have in your hands and play around with it. Learn it. Make mistakes. Make progress and have fun.

Here are a couple of other shots I took using this technique.

Photo info for the Photo of the Month (top of page)

Camera- Nikon D200

Lens- Tamron 17-50mm 2.8

Aperture- f/2.8

Shutter- 1/50th of a second

ISO- 3200

Edited in Aperture