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Ann Arbor Portraits


Pop•X: panel discussion and coverage

Image: Current Magazine

Image: Current Magazine

Now that Nick's installation is in place at Pop•X, he can breathe a little easier. The photographs and sculpture came together without too much ado so that was a relief. The festival has been received warmly and we're grateful to Omari Rush and all the artists and organizers for their ardent efforts.

Below are a few places you can read and see photos of the festival if you can't make it. And I'll be moderating the Art for Innovators talk on Workspace Design tomorrow, Monday, Oct 19th. Should be a great time, see you there!

Detroit News

Current Magazine  

Current Mag Facebook page  

MLive  | MLive video





Exhibiting, jurying and moderating at Pop•X

Our friend Omari Rush has been really busy over the last year. He's the Curator of Public Programs at the Ann Arbor Art Center and has been producing Pop•X, an arts festival of ten pop-up pavilions in Liberty Plaza. The public square is located at the corner of Division and Liberty Streets in downtown Ann Arbor and will be transformed starting next week, into a ephemeral playground of installations and happenings. 

We were lucky enough to take part on a few different levels. During the planning stages of the festival, I got to sit in on some preliminary meetings and then jury the exhibitors. And as it turns out, Nick is one of them. I won't give too much away, but his work will speak directly to the usual inhabitants of Liberty Plaza, a group of citizens that are often marginalized for various reasons, who will be displaced during the festival. You can see his pavilion and work on opening day, October 15th through October 24th. 

I'll moderate a talk, Workspace Design, on Monday, October 19th at the Ann Arbor District Library. I'm excited to sit down and talk to a group of innovative business owners in the area including Sava Lelcaj Farah: CEO, Savco Hospitality; Shane Pliska: CEO, Planterra; and Dug Song: CEO, Duo Security. It's a free event and fascinating topic so I'm certain this will draw a crowd. 

We hope to see you there! 



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! 
Yen and Nick Azzaro



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. 



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!" 


The key! 

The key! 




Sawandi, the 2nd (shoot)

You remember Sawandi. We worked together back in December of last year. A truly talented and versatile young man, and I hope to work with him for years to come. 




Detroit Connections: Super Heroes

Nick's been working with elementary students in one of Detroit's public schools as a Detroit Connections artist-in-residence. Once a week, he goes in to talk to them about creating imagery, writing about their community and then takes photos of the kids acting out their super hero dreams.

He's featured on the Stamps School of Art & Design's tumblr page. Check it out!



Meet + Greet with Mayer Hawthorne

Ann Arbor native Mayer Hawthorne had the city abuzz with excitement this past Saturday as the headliner for Live on Washington, a free outdoor concert benefitting the teen center Neutral Zone. We're big fans of his latest album Where Does this Door Go, especially since I knew Mayer back during high school (which inspired much of the album) and during his days with Athletic Mic League.

It was an exceptionally beautiful day and perfect for an outdoor concert. Nick brought his set up and caught some exciting shots of the sound check, private meet and greet and group shots of the student curators. 



Taste of Ann Arbor + Restaurant Week 2014

Over the last two and a half years, Nick has become the photographer that people trust for gooey, decadent, in-your-face food photos. So when we started thinking about who we wanted to partner with this upcoming season, it made sense to work with Main Street Area Association. Maura Thomson not only oversees the bustling Restaurant Weeks (twice a year in January and June) but she also manages the logistics for Taste of Ann Arbor, a street fair that brings in thousands of people for a daylong food fest.

We're so excited to be a sponsor and the official photographer during both of these events. You'll see Nick out and about capturing the hullabaloo of the dinners and festivities as well as all the scrumptious photos on their website of the participating restaurants. We'll be working closely with chefs and owners to represent their succulent offerings from their limited menus so you know what to look forward to.

Nick will get to use the portable light set-up he created himself (more on that in a later blog) and we can share some our food styling secrets with you along the way!

When you see us out and about, stop and say hello and pose for a photo. (We'll try not to take it while you're stuffing a slider in your face). It's going to be a whirlwind Spring so check back for lots of details on the shoots and food styling!

If you're a restaurant owner or you know of a restaurant in need of professional food styling and photos, contact us now through June 2014 for a special Food Month photo shoot. 




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.


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.




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


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