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#YCS: Your Committed Superintendent

The culmination of the experiences over the last four years has led us to a project that we feel personally vested, more so than any other we've worked on before. We are humbled and happy to announce that Ypsilanti Community Schools is our newest client. 

I met Dr. Benjamin Edmondson, or "Dr. E." as students call him, two weeks ago during the buzz of his imminent appointment as the new superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS). I heard of his no-nonsense but encouraging approach when dealing directly with students and his uncanny ability to remember students' names when out and about.

I was looking forward to telling him about our academic approach to championing the arts including Nick's latest venture, the student photo incubator. Upon meeting, I learned that he was looking to not only change the schools from the inside out, he wanted a complete rebranding of the YCS image. We immediately started brainstorming, citing the recent history of the schools and the community-chosen colors. At our next meeting Nick and I shared our experience as new parents and the gnawing question of where our son would attend school three years from now. 

Ben's ideas are backed up by immediate action. He's making the rounds at YCS schools to meet students, faculty and staff, giving frank talks about his expectations and what the students can do to succeed academically. He also recently attended a City Council meeting to introduce himself to the community and talk about his first 90 days as superintendent.

As Ypsilanti business owners we feel a commitment to making our surroundings not only culturally engaging but socially and economically vibrant and viable for families of all backgrounds. Ben's hope, and ours as well, is to invigorate a partnership between businesses and families including mentoring students after school, donating in-kind services for school functions and more. These are all actions we not only stand behind but have been doing already. 

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Nick and I had the privilege of getting to spend time with his sons this past weekend and they are absolute gentlemen, charismatic and well-mannered beyond their years. It gives me so much to look forward to with our son! 

You'll be seeing more about our work with Ben and YCS, particularly as we near the start of the school year. We joke that we have three years to make YCS a viable choice for us. But all know — that we're not joking at all. 

Here's to the man that we believe will be the energy and leadership the community has been looking for. 

 


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November 2014

In the interest of saving time and filling everyone in on the things we have coming up, I'm loading our last e-blast content here. Enjoy! 


Hello! This is the first e-mail we've sent to this lovely list of people since opening our studio. As many of you know, we had the fortune of stumbling upon a perfect little storefront in downtown Ypsilanti about seven weeks ago. Yes, just seven weeks ago! 

It has an open storefront space (for photographing), an office (for art and design consulting) and dressing room/dining nook. We snatched it up and never looked back. 

And since then, some incredible things have happened. 

  1. We attended our first First Fridays Ypsilanti just earlier this month, a circuit of venues with music, art, food, happenings on the first Friday of each tolerable un-wintery month. (There's a short break after the upcoming December 5th event). You grab a map and check out all the cool places that are hosting exhibits and offering specials. It's unique, surprising and wonderful fun for the family.
  2. Our studio opened on 11/11! Even though we're not a retail space selling wares, it was a bit of a hectic day - little sleep and lots of anxiety - about all good things! It seems the years of accumulating furniture were for this space. We just didn't know it. 9 S. Washington is a pretty sweet little spot on a corridor of downtown Ypsi that seems to literally be activating (as someone called it) day by day right before our very eyes. 
  3. On 11/20, three days after we photographed this set up, it was featured in the digital version of the New York Times. In the print version there are both styled photos we took for Skandicrush, this wonderful subscription service that sends monthly boxes filled with beautiful home wares. We're so lucky to be partnered with talented entrepreneurs with such vision. 
  4. That same night we celebrated our opening with friends and locals. It was a riot. Some of the photos can be found on our Facebook page.
  5. Nick has been really involved with Ypsilanti families and students over the last year. He worked on a photography assignment that allowed him to capture almost every family in a housing community and it moved everyone involved. That's how we came up with the idea to offer $10 Holiday Family Portraits on 11/29 Small Business Saturday. There's no reason a family shouldn't have a professional photo. We want to make these important things accessible and fun for everyone. Spread the word and the cheer! Come in with friends, family, students, colleagues...or just by yourself. All the details are here. (Pompom backdrop included)
  6. Once again, we are so excited to support Art Around Town, the business enterprise benefitting participating Ypsilanti Public School art programming. We'll be selling art through preview sales on:
  • First Fridays, Dec. 5th from 5-9 pm **We'll also be offering $20 holiday portraits that evening!**
  • Auction preview and art sale on Friday, Dec. 12th from 5-9 pm
  • Winter Auction on Saturday, Dec. 13th from 6-9 pm. Prints, paintings and sculpture will be sale and we play auctioneer! Bring the family and battle over works of art!

We didn't know what we were missing until we had the studio. Now that we do, we're thrilled to share our ideas, aesthetics and fun times with all of you. You're always welcome here. 

Be well and have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 
Best,
Yen and Nick Azzaro

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Moved In, Jumping In, Upcoming Events

Wow. We just ended the second day in the studio and we are just dumbfounded by the support and love we've felt from the community and our friends. It's incredible. 

Some of the highlights so far include:

  • Watching people look in the window and turn away, running away quickly when we offer to show them around. 
  • Our awesome landlord, Hedger stopped by and told us he really likes our style. We like your style too, Hedger.
  • Friends popped in and had their portraits taken. 
  • We finally got a tablecloth for the dressing room/kitchen area and cleaned off all the doodads that were hanging out there. And Nick installed a wavy mirror.

And over the last couple days we also agreed to the following events.

We brainstormed last night to participate in our first Small Business Saturday but more specifically #ShopYpsi on Saturday, Nov. 29th to offer $10 portraits to families. We'll blame this on sleep deprivation, yes.

Nick believes that every family deserves a professional holiday portrait and he loves working with kids. 

First Fridays Ypsi is a fun-filled evening with sales and special events and exhibits all around town. We'll participate at our first one on Friday, Dec. 5th with prints from Art Around Town.

We're partnering with Art Around Town again for the Winter Auction, which I'll be auctioneering on Saturday, Dec. 13th from 6-9 pm. (It's the same day at Tiny Expo but we're happy to miss it  to support Ypsi public school arts). 

It's a lot of dates and logistics but this is truly what we've been working toward all these years. The furniture in the waiting area (which we had been hoarding and keeping in the storage unit) proves it. 

We hope that you'll stop in and visit us any time. We're so excited to be a part of the growing Ypsi community and taking the world by storm. 

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Prepping for the Launch

Getting a physical space ready for ourselves is bigger and badder than other projects we've worked on. We revamped the logo to match the architectural feel of our studio - a late 19th century storefront. This is something we wouldn't normally do but the sans serif lines of our previous logo didn't match the feel of the building or the furniture and objects we're planning to decorate with. 

To celebrate our opening, we're having an awesome photo session giveaway! Go to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages to enter! There's 4 chances per person to win. 

Our first day of business is 11/11 - come by and say "hello!" 

 

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 The key! 

The key! 

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Vintage Hollywood V - Pop-Up for a Great Cause

Nick's been editing like crazy and I've been working on lots of small projects. One of which is our next pop-up. This time we're partnering with Neutral Zone for their annual fundraiser next Friday, Vintage Hollywood. In its fifth year, VH is a night of glamour (this year's theme is The Great Gatsby), food, entertainment and a great social gathering all around. Everything benefits NZ, which is an incredible teen center with a stage, music recording studio, art studio, kitchen, hang out spaces... basically everything you ever wanted when you were hanging out with your friends growing up.

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We'll be there from 7 to 9 pm photographing everyone in their best attire for a super, discounted rate of $10 each for this special night. Each participant will receive a lightly retouched and processed, digital image via email delivery. And, we'll donate a portion of the evening's proceeds to Neutral Zone. 

If you're free the night of March 7th, come out and celebrate for a great cause. Tickets are still available but they'll most likely sell out! See you there.

 

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Pop Ups: Behind the Scenes + The Next One at The Espresso Bar!

In December we had a blast with our first pop-up photo event at Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, the awesome storefront with all things robotic and fun. It also serves as a "front" for the literacy, tutoring and publishing nonprofit, 826michigan.

  Matt Lauer, one of the amazing volunteers at the Robot Supply and Repair doing what he does: fixin' things.

Matt Lauer, one of the amazing volunteers at the Robot Supply and Repair doing what he does: fixin' things.

We were so thrilled and honored when they agreed to let us hold our pop-up in their writing center and the results were colorful and lively, thanks to some stand in robots (courtesy of our talented friend Dylan Strzynski). 

  Photo by Art Azzaro

Photo by Art Azzaro

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Aren't they adorable?!

Which brings us to. . . our next pop up! This time we're partnering with our friends at The Espresso Bar, where highly crafted espresso drinks are doled out by the expert hands of proprietor Sandy Bledsoe. Bring your mom, your dad, your best friend or your crush for a coffee date unlike any other. Once you're settled with your drinks, we'll get you ready for a professional portrait of the two of you.

You don't need to sign up and we're hoping that it'll be a fun-loving day of caffeine and warm fuzzies after this crazy deep freeze we've experienced. And oh, did we mention it's on Valentine's Day? :) See you there!

If you know of a venue or organization that you think would be a great partner, let us know

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Pop-In for a Pop-Up: The Coolest Thing We've Done Up Til Now

Nick and I have been pondering over this idea for a while — a pop-up event. There are pop-up galleries, food stands, so why not a photo session? When we started talking about venues, we thought of lots of places to rent for the day. But what if, instead of paying a retail space, we could make a donation to one of the places that we love the most with the coolest people we work with? 826michigan and their Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair was a no-brainer!

From their literacy programs to after-school tutoring sessions to the professionally bound student books they publish, we are so proud to work with them on a regular basis. 

If you're not familiar with a pop-up, here are some questions you might have for us. And since we're kind of feeling it out too, we're open to suggestions. 

Q: How long is the photo session?

A: Great question! We ask that when parents call or email, they anticipate booking an hour, even though the approximate shoot time is 20 minutes. (We schedule three kids an hour but you get your own session time). That way if you're running late or your kid's feeling just a little shy that day, your time won't run out before we get some incredible photos.

Q: Do you offer prints?

A: Right now, no. The image files we send to you (less than 72 hours later) are high resolution and ready to print, share and post to your heart's content!

Q: How many kids can I have in a session?

A: Up to 2 is what we'll have lighting and backdrops for that day. If you're interested in booking a session for more than 2 people, we're always happy to accommodate. Simply make an appointment. 

Q: Can I (the parent) be in the photo shoot too? 

A: Yes! Please feel free to hop in for a few or for many of the photos. 

Q: What age is recommended?

A: 6 months and up. The reason for this is that we prefer models that can hold their own, or rather, sit up on their own. They make for the most active and precious photos, don't you think?

Q: What is the refund policy?

A: Because of the fundraising nature of this event, we cannot offer refunds. The packages however, are transferable. If you have to give up your slot, give your friend or family member your name and show up with the receipt. It's that simple!

Q: Can we show up without an appointment? 

A: We hope to take walk ins if not all spaces are filled, but there are only a handful to begin with. We will be updating our Facebook and Twitter feeds that day so be on the look out!

Q: When is the next Pop-In for a Pop-Up? 

A: Right now we're working on something for Spring 2014. If you have a venue or a suggestion on where you'd like to see one pop up, let us know! 

We hope to see you at the event! Onward robots!

 

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A light just went off!

What kind of photographer are you? Are you a food shooter or do you take portraits? If you're a portrait photographer do you take family portraits or editorial photos? 

I get asked these questions fairly often and the best way to answer them is with a simple  "yes". I definitely have preference of subject, but when it comes to making something in front of my lens look good it's the lighting that does all the work. Once you have an understanding of how to work with light, it doesn't matter if your subject is three inches tall or life size, the lighting arrangement will be the same. 

 Amelia

Amelia

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Teen Model Search Winners at zoey + joey

We always have a fun time when we're working with zoey + joey, the family-friendly kid and teen salon. There's no other option like it in the area with their all natural, vegan products, video games and children's programming, free coffee for parents and custom Mini Coopers for the little ones. You can even book and change your appointments online any time of day. The past couple months, they held a Teen Model Search to find models for their new back-to-school and teen salon ad campaigns, which we create along with capturing photos. 

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Early this past Tuesday (the only day the salon is closed), we met Julian, Celine and Parker, the three photogenic winners. They received a year's worth of haircuts, their photographs taken in the new teen salon for the ads and a professional portrait with Nick. It took a little while for the sleepy eyed kids to get warmed up, but once they did we got some awesome shots. 

Here are some examples of the editorial style photos they were awarded with. You can book your own session with us here

Congratulations to the winners and look out this Fall for the ads in publications all over town!  

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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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