Tag Archives: Nick Azzaro

*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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Beauty and the Beast: Behind-the-Scenes of Shooting Product

Photography is many things: meaningful, informative, brilliant. The path to reach the end result however, doesn’t always have to be.

A tipped light. A couple cardboard boxes for support. Some tissue used to help bounce light…

Presto! A glamorous rotor!

If you need products photographed, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or reach us at info@chin-azzaro.com

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A Bear of a Time: On the Set with Filmmaker Gus Péwé

Our good friend, artist and sculptor Tim Péwé has a son who’s equally as talented in another medium – film. Gus is still a student (he’ll be attending California Institute of the Arts this Fall) but a budding filmmaker that’s already debuted his works in various places. This past week N shot a costume that came to be with the help of his parents and producer Robert Hoxie, with spiritual guidance from Tommy Colangelo. It’s a costume that will be used in his upcoming film, Same Ghost Every Night, which reached a successful Kickstarter campaign goal recently. The photos not only document how awesome the costume is but will be used for promoting the film.

There was a lot of horsing around in the studio.

Below, Gus, Tommy and Robert keep it real.

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Alone in 1000 Square Feet, Update

Alone in 1000 Square Feet is an ongoing project, adding one or more new photos every week.

For those new to this series, there are only two guidelines: only I can be in the photo and they must all be captured in my apartment, common area or basement. Using these restrictions I’ve created six characters:

The Turbulent Mob Associate

The Clever Spy

The Distressed Burglar

The Afflicted War Veteran

The Flamboyant Detective

The Brilliant Psychopath

So far there’s been overlap through conflict, time and chance… but everybody’s still alive…

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L’Meese then and now

I’ve already had a stellar photo career with many great experiences. Along the way I’ve worked with some wonderful people. On occasion I’m lucky enough to work with the same subject at yearly intervals. Such is the case with L’Meese.

I first worked with her in 2008 when I exhibited in a two-person show with renowned fashion photographer Stan Malinowski in Chicago. From Fantasy to Fashion drew an incredible crowd of collectors and I was proud to show my interpretation of fashion photography with Stan’s photographs for such publications as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Playboy. From Janice Dickinson to Iman in Valentino’s atelier, it was a smashing success. More of Stan’s work can be seen here.

Catalog page from the exhibit. Images by Stan Malinowski.

Catalog page from the exhibit. Images by Nick Azzaro.

From left, Stan Malinowski taking a picture while I look on with Victor Skrebneski and his colleague. Photo by Art Azzaro.

I showed new work, inspired by Stan’s big budget shoots of yesteryear. L’Meese’s portrait below was included in the exhibit.

I recently had the chance to work with L’Meese again, this time in Ann Arbor. The only thing that’s changed is her elevated level of experience.

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Latest Tribehaus Shoot : Three Lighting Set Ups, Three Looks

We’ve started shooting for Tribehaus on a regular basis and every week is an exciting chance to sharpen our creative processes. Last weekend we hit the nail on the head when we worked with model Maeve and collaborated again with make up artist Taryn Scalise of Tough Love MPD. Along with the “chief” of Tribehaus, Anna Bagozzi, the stars were in alignment because we had some of the most successful shots we’ve seen a long while. Don’t you agree?


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Alone in 1000 Square Feet, Set 1

It was 6:56pm on the evening of August 15 when the flamboyant detective understood this was no ordinary murder scene.

At the same time across town the afflicted war veteran was having realizations of his own…

While his friend, the turbulent mob associate, was in the middle of a very important business deal.

The details from that transaction made no difference to the occupant of the residence one house to the south. The distressed burglar was hard at work, reaping what he could as his window was closing fast…

But not as fast as the clever spy’s.

“What’s the hurry”, said the brilliant psychopath to himself in the mirror of an apartment he had entered only once before.

The following day was spent analyzing images and materials taken from the gruesome display by the flamboyant detective.

And breakfast was ruined for two nameless thugs by an unannounced visit from the turbulent mob associate.

But the thugs had it easy compared to the clever spy, who withstood a night of interrogation and still maintained his cover.

Another day, another “…fuck it”, said the afflicted war veteran.

“50/50.” No matter how prepared, the distressed burglar knows there’s a fifty-fifty chance things could go wrong during any break in.

“Are you certain get the fuck out of here are the last words you’d ever like to say?” asked the brilliant psychopath.

A broken vase. A sideways chair. That was the extent of the mess made when the clever spy broke free and overtook his captors.

The minutes felt like hours as the flamboyant detective tried to comprehend what had taken place in the crimson apartment. “Could a human have done this?”

Some have no conscience.

Others remember all too well.

Some like to talk.

Others prefer the quiet.

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