A Change Is Gonna Come: New Blog Location

We had to do it. Over the last year or so we were pretty unimpressed that our website couldn’t be experienced properly because of its Flash status. Now that’s all changed, as has our blog. It’s all in one place. Sorry to all the WordPress subscribers that have been loyal to our posts. We’re now here. And while you’re at it, check out the new site and let us know what you think. Via phone, tablet or anything else you’re seeing our work on.

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Artist Profile: Kelly Ventura for Crate & Barrel

Kelly and I met in Book Arts when we attended art school years ago. I always remembered her pieces for being subtle and thoughtfully brilliant. We crossed paths again in Chicago when she was showing her incredible fiber pieces at the gallery where I worked and at The Renegade Craft Fair. Now we’re all back in the Ann Arbor area and Kelly is a full time product and surface designer. We were so thrilled to hear that a line of her illustrations had been picked up by Crate & Barrel to be reproduced for their Spring 2014 art print line. Congratulations, Kelly!

N captured some great shots of her working in the studio in preparation to send to C&B for their artist profile.

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Kelly works largely in watercolor and pen. She has a beautiful signature style that’s whimsical and saturated with color.

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See more of Kelly’s work at KellyVentura.com and her Minted site. We can’t wait for her collection to come out next spring – look out for it!

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To have your works of art or yourself captured in the studio, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email us at info@chin-azzaro.com

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*You* Should Appreciate This

Close your eyes. Now open them. How many pictures do you see around you?

Like many other things, photographic technology has become so consumer friendly we’re constantly flooded with imagery. It’s in the camera manufacturer’s best interest to put their product in as many hands as possible. Everyone wins… except appreciation.

Not that long ago achieving an image took at the very least three hours, but usually much longer (I’m speaking from experience, so within the last thirty years).

8:00AM, pick up film. This should be the easiest task, but you have to consider available light which determines film speed, the type of light which determines the film’s white balance and the brand as different brands yield different textures.

Film also had an expiration, which was an incentive to shoot.

Try to use your film before 1937.

Try to use your film before 1937.

8:37AM, run to the studio and grab the light meter and some Polaroid. This is where it gets dicey as you have to know your camera and math because you’re preparing to shoot 12, 24 or 36 frames without instant gratification (and if you’re shooting large format, wear your lucky socks). When I assisted I’d hear “I want the back at 16 and 8 up front, diffused, with 11 only on the models face” and have ten minutes to accommodate while the clients and talent looked on. Below are some Polaroids from my time assisting Jeff Sciortino (note the light meter with me in every shot).

On the left I was standing in for Stacy Keach, who's on the right (ask your parents).

On the left I was standing in for Stacy Keach, who’s on the right (ask your parents).

Polaroids were our window into the future and we’d often record the exposure settings on the winners.

9:14AM, begin shooting the Polaroids. Once you’re satisfied with the lighting you’ve got the green light to go to film, however, if it’s a commercial shoot you need the client to sign off on the Polaroid too, so add an hour.

9:37AM, begin shooting film. With every shutter release you might wonder if the lights all fired or if the film advanced okay. When you only have 12, 24 or even 36 exposures, each frame is valuable real estate.

10:07AM, one of the rented lights in the back continues to misfire. The rental house should be able to help, but it pauses the shoot for 15 to 20 minutes. This happened to me maybe one out of every ten shoots. I’d have to call Helix rental on Jackson Street in downtown Chicago and talk with those guys, which I imagine is like calling NASA if NASA consisted of sarcastic, incompetent morons.

11:27AM, the film’s all exposed. Time to head to the lab and if it’s a commercial client DO NOT forget the purchase order.

11:45AM, the film is at the lab. The film takes three hours to develop unless you rush order it, but that comes at a premium. However, you may want the film pushed to add some brightness so you order a snip test. The process time doubled.

If you choose to develop your own, prepare to enjoy an extended period of peace and quiet. So long as you know what you’re doing this can be a very therapeutic exercise. All you have to do is follow the simple instructions shown below.

The people at the labs were great people and good at what they did. I either used Precision Imaging on Grand Boulevard or Gamma Imaging downtown on Superior (both have since changed names or moved). If my order was entirely black and white I went to Print Lab on Homan in Humboldt Park. Some of those folks were genuine chemists. In fact, the TV show Braking Bad was originally going to be about dark room labs, but critics thought that too controversial so they chose crystal meth instead.

3:00PM, receive the film from the snip test. As you suspected it could be pushed 1/3 so you call it in. Keep in mind, starting a film process now will finish up around 6PM or later. Some labs close at 5 or 5:30PM. Your choices are asking the lab to accommodate or to begin the process first thing the next morning. The latter would be no problem unless it was Friday. “They change the soup out over the weekend, so the snip test would be unreliable. Ask them to stay late.” Which meant I had to stay late and wait for the lab to finish so we could send the film to the client on Saturday. Not cool.

This film was pushed 1/3 on April 1.

This film was pushed 1/3 on April 1.

6:01PM, the lab drops off the film. Now you can review the contact sheets and make selects and, of course, have a drink. After that you’re home bound.

8:31AM, at the lab because they couldn’t possibly open at 8AM. You hand back the film and a list of selects for printing.

9:45AM, the first run of prints arrive. Not satisfied with two of them. Call the lab and reprint them brighter, with more cyan.

10:52AM, the two new images are in your hands. Satisfaction rushes over you.

So, exactly two hours and 52 minutes later you have images. One day, and two hours and 52 minutes later.

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Mi Familia: A Family Portrait Session

Vince and Lisa (parents to yesterday’s adorable Luigi) came out to the studio for their first family portrait session with us.

Not only were they a really photogenic family, they wasted no time getting into character and making eyes at the camera.

They felt right at home with each other and we got to see some goofy shots.

And some very sweet ones.

And no one had to hold a gun to dad’s head for him to get silly.

For your family portrait session, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email info@chin-azzaro.com

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Playtime: Old School with Mario + Luigi

Press ‘play’ on the video below.

There. Now you have the perfect soundtrack for today’s post.

Over the weekend we headed over to Photo Studio Group to photograph a pair of cousins. But it wasn’t just your typical session. They wanted to play dress up…

Pretty darn adorable, don’t you think?

There was a bit of vying for the Mario costume.

But sometimes a little competition is healthy.

To have your child photographed in costume, shoot us an email info@chin-azzaro.com or call 734-929-2498

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First Date Jitters: Engagement Photos at The (Espresso) Bar

My sister Alice just got engaged to her beau John and we couldn’t be happier, especially since they decided to have their engagement photos taken at one of the most authentic and delicious spots for coffee in town (their first date was here), the (espresso) bar. As it happens, coffee is good for you and the owner, Sandy, is the kind of person that remembers your drink even after a pregnancy hiatus.*

N got to catch some great shots of the couple in the well-appropriated space as well as enjoy some beautifully-crafted drinks.

Thank you, Sandy and the (espresso) bar staff for letting us take over your space. Check back for more photos from their new brunch menu soon. And Like them on Facebook for yummy updates everyday!

To book your engagement shoot, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email at info@chin-azzaro.com

*Their affogato is crazy good.

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Good Times for a Good Cause: 826 Michigan’s Annual Storymakers Dinner

Last night N photographed the 4th Annual Storymakers Dinner for 826 Michigan at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. He shot the event last year and jumped at the chance to do it again. It’s a really fun, laid back evening celebrating the literary accomplishments of students and the adults that help them. If you’re not familiar with 826, you can check out their website here. This is their intro paragraph on the site:

826michigan is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students aged 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. 826 opened its doors in June of 2005. Since then, we have been blessed with students, tutors, and volunteers overflowing with enthusiasm.

We couldn’t be happier to work with such a vital asset in our community. Last night’s special guests included National Book Critics Circle Award recipient Deb Olin Unferth and former 826 student Saif Ghanem, whose essay “The Story of My Life” was included in the 826 National publication Be Honest, And Other Advice from Students Around the Country. 

If you’re looking for an incredibly worthwhile organization to donate, volunteer or just learn more about, we urge you to find out more about 826 and visit The Robot Supply & Repair at 115 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. Proceeds from sales of awesome robot goodies directly fund their literacy, tutoring and publishing programming. Can you tell we just love this place??

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Chris Johnson of Johnsonese Brokerage: How to Insure Your Art

Today’s post was written by our wonderful friend and business insurance guru, Chris Johnson. He’s the owner of Johnsonese Brokerage in Chicago and has helped us tremendously over the years. He was kind enough to explain the process of obtaining insurance and also share some inside stories.

What are the general steps to getting art insured?

The biggest step is probably determining the value of the art to be insured. Collectors simply have their collections appraised. For an individual artist the process is a little more challenging because their art inventory is continually changing. So they need good records to document the value of their art. This can be copies of gallery contracts, for example, that list the consigned value of their artworks over time. Or if they sell directly, it can be sales records showing selling prices over time. For more established artists, it can be auction records or appraisal reports for specific works.

The next step is simply to find an insurance agent that understands the business of art. The insurance agent will work with the artist to determine what level of insurance coverage is appropriate for the artist. This is basically the highest dollar value of artworks that you might have at your studio (or elsewhere) at any given time. You also need to be concerned with coverage for your artworks while in-transit. Most art insurance policies have a separate, and usually lower, sub-limit for coverage of art while it is being shipped. The limit should be high enough to cover the highest value of art that you would include in any one shipment. Think of how much you might ship for a gallery show or art fair, not just individual artworks being shipped to buyers.

You also need to think about international coverage. The typical policy provides coverage in the US and Canada. If you will be selling internationally or participating in international art fairs, you should add international coverage.

What are some of the types of clients you insure?

In the Fine Art world, we insure galleries and private dealers, auction houses, corporate and private collections, framers and conservators, and individual artists. We also insure traveling museum exhibits, which I think can be the most fun because we sometimes get to see the exhibits before the general public.

Share an awesome art story disaster with us!

You won’t be surprised to learn that Charles Saatchi is not my client. But I can’t help finding the story of the demise of his Marc Quinn sculpture a little amusing. The sculpture was made from the artist’s own frozen blood, so Saatchi had it kept in a freezer. During maintenance at his house the power was disrupted and the sculpture melted. The darkly amusing part to me is that Saatchi is married to celebrity cook Nigella Lawson. So I can’t help imagining this work of art melting all over some amazing dinner that Nigella had whipped up for a party.

Marc Quinn, Self, 2001, Image: The Art World Daily

Marc Quinn, Self, 2001, Image: The Art World Daily

But for my real clients, the day to day claims are things like water damage, damage in shipment, damage during installation or packing, and even red wines spills at gallery openings. I did have a gallery client experience a pretty major loss when there was a fire two floors above them. The fire was quickly contained on the higher floor, but about half of my client’s inventory was water damaged. I had another client have sewage back-up literally in their gallery. Most of the work was high enough that the damage was limited, but still expensive.

Who are your favorite artists?

I like and collect a few local artists who aren’t well known. But to have some fun name dropping, probably my favorite living Chicago artists are Karl Wirsum and Theaster Gates. In looking at all of art history, I have eclectic tastes. I like El Greco, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.

But if I could own any artwork in the world, I might choose Picasso’s Guernica.

Pablo Picasso, Guernica. Paris, June 4, 1937. Oil on canvas, 349.3 x 776.6 cm

Pablo Picasso, Guernica. Paris, June 4, 1937. Oil on canvas, 349.3 x 776.6 cm

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your expertise on taking care of our investments! You don’t have to be in Chicago for him to help you. See the full list of licensed states here. To contact him about your own collection or business, call  773.857.0242 or email him at info@johnsonese.com

Johnson is a licensed insurance producer with a background in corporate finance, business planning, technology commercialization, project management and international business. Johnson focuses on serving clients in the arts community, building on his four year experience as director of a contemporary fine art gallery in Chicago. During this time he was also a founding member of a neighborhood gallery association, and he completed a Certificate of Connoisseurship in Fine & Decorative Arts at Northwestern University. In his insurance practice Johnson works closely with art galleries, antique dealers and framers to protect and build their businesses.

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Fortress of Solitude

Ansel Adams’ photographic career began when his father gave him a Kodak Brownie box camera to take pictures while at Yosemite National Park in 1916. From there his curiosity never dwindled. Everyone has a story.

Below are composite pictures of the living room in the house I grew up in. The collection has grown since I left home and continues still. My father loves both taking and printing pictures. This is why I’m so comfortable on either side of the lens.

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Couples Photo Opp: Jason + Joe

Our dear friends Jason and Joe visited us over the weekend and mentioned they needed a photo of themselves for a family project. N jumped at the opportunity and brought along lighting since we were planning on shooting close to dusk and it had been cloudy most of the day. As we walked back to their B&B, it started to drizzle and we took cover on the front porch. Moments later, the clouds parted and rays of light splayed across the “set.” Foregoing the lighting, he was able to catch some great snapshots with natural light. Here are a few of our favorites of the handsome couple.

For portraits, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or info@chin-azzaro.com

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