Christmas Family Portraits Los Angeles 2011

20 Dec

Last year I photographed Judy’s family for their Christmas portraits.  This year, I was invited back to capture the family once again during the holiday festivities.  It was utterly amazing to witness how fast kids grow!

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Help-Portrait LA 2011

12 Dec

On Dec. 10, 2011, I participated in one of the most meaningful and rewarding events I have been a part of – Help-Portrait!  All over the world, photographers, makeup artist, hairstylists and volunteers get together to donate their time, talent, equipment and expertise to shoot portraits for those who are less fortunate.  In Los Angeles alone, there were photographers serving at 5 different locations.  I was part of the Eagle Rock/Glassell Park location.

The photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists and volunteers at Help-Portrait LA 2011 Eagle Rock!

From 10 am – 5 pm, families arrived at the Del Principe de Paz Church, got a makeover and portraits taken by professional photographers.  Each person/family received 8×10 and 4×6 prints to take home, most everyone with a big smile on the face.

Stacks of portraits taken during the day

It was amazing to see so many talented people who have taken the time to give back to the community.  As photographer Eric Politzer said, “As soon as all the photographers arrived, we all left our egos at the door, because it’s not about us today, it’s about giving back.”

Downtown Glam Portrait

10 Aug

Zayna was my second Groupon customer.  She selected downtown as the backdrop for her portraits, and wanted some vintage charm.  After spending a day scouting different locations, we picked the Checkers Hotel for the interior location and the garden of the Central Library for the exterior.

The bar area at the Checkers Hotel offers a jazzy, vintage atmosphere

Zayna and I connected instantly with chats about career, boys, and fasion.  She has a beautiful face and the cutest smile!  After a while she loosened up and her playful energy exudes a cute sexiness on camera.

Zayna was actually playing against herself since I don't know how to play chess!

The Central Library was closed that day, which worked to our advantage since there’s less foot traffic.  We picked this really beautiful old doors at one of the entrances to the library for some shots.  There were some homeless people watching us while Zayna posed and smiled like a star.

Give it up for Zayna who was twirling in front of the lunch crowd in downtown LA!

For the outdoors part, we wanted to give Zayna a somewhat more “badass” look that goes with her second outfit with the city as the backdrop. What do you think?

Family Portrait at the Huntington Library

31 May

Meredith was one of the first Groupon customers who contacted me after she purchased a Groupon for Marie Chao Photography.  Since she has an annual pass to the beautiful Huntington Library, she suggested that as the location for her family portrait session.  It was a perfect spring day: light breeze in the air, puffy clouds in the sky, flowers blooming… I was surprised how many people were waiting in line to get in when we arrived at 10:30 am!

Since the Groupon deal is for a 30-minute portrait session, Meredith already had a location planned – the Lily Pond.  We found a quiet corner by the pond, and off we went.  Doesn’t it look like an image from a fairytale story with his fiery red hair?!

Charlotte is a three-week old (!) beautiful baby girl.  She was super cooperative and I captured some tender moments between her and her family.

I wished that I could’ve stayed at the Huntington Library to walk around… but I had another shoot to run to!  A lady’s 90th birthday party!

Shoot films in Los Angeles!

24 Mar

In a grassroot effort to bring more film shoots back to Los Angeles, Filmworks LA (http://www.filmworksla.com/) and Shooting Movies in California (http://shootmoviesincalifornia.com/) put together a PSA (Public Service Announcement) shoot on March 22, 2011, in Studio City.  I was honored to participate and donate my time and effort for a worthy cause by directing the behind-the-scenes documentary of the whole shoot.  You can read more about it here: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118034281

All crew members donated time for free – from director, camera assistants, sound recordists, makeup artists, extras, to PA’s.  Multiple vendors donated trucks and motorhomes (Quixote, Paskal, Fisher Dolly, Panavision), and all meals were donated by Sunrise to Sunset.  It was quite amazing to see so many people pull their resources together to bring more jobs back to LA!  Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World, True Lies) generously stepped up to be the spokesperson at the last minute (also for free!) and did a fabulous job.

Todd Lindgren, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs at FilmL.A., giving a welcome speech to thank everyone for participating.

The camera crew that plays a camera crew in the PSA

Tia Carrere was beautiful, nice, and professional!

Steadicam Operator lining up a shot

With Bob Fischer, a veteran cameraman, on camera, and Brian Wiedling, a documentary filmmaker, capturing B-roll, we circled around the shoot and interviewed the cast and crew, many of which have been part of the filmmaking community for years if not decades.  Many told us personal stories about how they began in the film industry, their most memorable work experience on a film shoot, and how they would love for more jobs to come back to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world.

Gordon Tokomatsu of KTLA checking out fruit platter served by Craft Services Joey Rivera

KTLA news reporter Gordon Tokomatsu came and did a segment on the organizations’ grassroot efforts.  The PSA will be screened at Mann Theaters before feature presentations, and the documentary will be posted on various blogs and website.  Stay tuned!

Tia with all the kids who acted in the PSA

ASC Awards – Film Biz Glam!

15 Feb

Last night I attended the American Society of Cinematographers award dinner at the Grand Ballroom of Hollywood and Highland.  It’s one of the few times I get to be on the opposite side of the camera!  Although I felt pretty all dolled up in my beautiful handmade Qi Pao, honestly I would much rather stay on THIS side of the camera and take cool photos of people.  🙂

On the red carpet feeling like a star!

 

Here’s a photo of me and the husband getting ready for the glam.

I have to admit, I was totally star-struck being in the same room with so many great Cinematographers whose work I admire.  They are the reasons why I decided to be in the film industry!  On the steps leading up to the ballroom, we stopped to say hi to some friends, and this good-looking man walked by.  I decided to be social and introduced myself.  “Hi, my name is Marie.”  “Hi,” he smiles, “I’m Rodrigo.”  We shook hands.  And then it struck me – this is Rodrigo Prieto!  Amazing cinematographer who most recently shot Biutiful, also helmed the lens for such wonderful and gorgeous films like Babel, Brokeback Mountain, Broken Embraces, 8 Mile, and Amores Perros!  I turned to him and said incredulously, “YOU’RE Rodrigo Prieto?!”  He smiles again.  “Yes I am”  Wow.  I screamed, and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to shake your hand again.  I LOVE your work.”  He seemed pretty used to things like this and shook my hand again.  Unfortunately I was too star-struck to take a photo with him.  Next time.  I did, however, have a photo of the equally amazing Roger Deakins (True Grit, The Reader, No Country for Old Man, House of Sand and Fog, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Fargo, Shawshank Redemption, the list goes on…) as he walked by my table after receiving Lifetime Achievement Award from presenter and long-time collaborator Joel Coen.

(Wo)Man’s Best Friend – Pet Photography

9 Feb

They are there when we are sad, there when we are happy, and there …when it is really cold in the middle of a rainy night to wake us up to go pee.

But we love them just the same!

Who’s your best buddy?  Here are some of mine…

This is Ginger, who was recently sprayed by a skunk and zoomed back in the house smearing herself on everything, resulting in a REALLY stinky house for a few weeks.  I washed her 5 times with different solutions (thanks to all my friends’ suggestions) and finally she doesn’t smell like Pepe le Pew anymore.

And this is MeiMei, a 15-lb. Maine Coon, one of the coolest cats I’ve ever met.  She loves to eat grass, hates guitar (or my singing), and hates to be carried like a baby (although her mom and dad beg to differ!)

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