Tag Archives: photography

*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.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alone in 1000 Square Feet

It’s important to stay busy, but it’s also important to have fun. I recently began a series of images involving six different characters. Over time their stories will grow and conflict.

The guidelines are simple: only I can be in the image and it must be shot in my apartment, common area or basement. The techniques, however, are limitless.

I present: the brilliant psychopath, the afflicted war veteran, the clever spy, the distressed burglar, the turbulent mob associate and the flamboyant detective.

We can do the same for you. Contact us for more information.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wolfram

Wolfram, or Tungsten as it’s better known, is number 74 on your periodic table and arguably the most divine element ever discovered. Although Tungsten has many uses, it’s its involvement in incandescent light bulbs that gives it the power to create different worlds.

The below images capture Tungsten lights, coupled with some fog, adding levels of fantastically unnatural warm tones to otherwise normal scenes.

-N

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All Quiet on the Western Front

I’m a simple man: I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my sunsets epic.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to the man that started it all for me.

We’ve gone on some pretty fun shoots together.

Let’s keep shooting!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Shoot the Moon

The moon was quite bright and nearly full once again, making it perfect to capture on it’s own or as part of a larger picture.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store tonight for the partial eclipse of the Strawberry moon. See you tonight.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spring Fling.

Early Spring has kept me in a shooting frenzy. Any time I can sneak a few minutes of photographing, I’m outside, day or night.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

It’s portrait time!

Victor Skrebneski and Marc Hauser tend to light from the front, just over head. I light from the sides. I certainly didn’t invent it, but definitely enjoy it. That being said, thank you Ann Arbor Arts Alliance for such a fun session!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,