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Ramen, Tako and Kara-Age: Photo shoot at Tomukun

Tomukun Noodle Bar is one of the most popular restaurants in town and for good reason. With their diverse menu of Asian specialties such as pork buns, pho and green curry udon, it was hard to focus on shooting without gobbling all of it down. The owners, Noe, Tom and Victor were on hand making sure that their food was represented in the best light (no pun intended). We brought our equipment set up and got started right away, capturing some spontaneous shots in the front kitchen.

And an unusually quiet moment in the dining room.

We got warmed up with a few apps.

Then came the main acts.

We had a blast shooting. Thank you, Tomukun, for a successful and high-energy shoot. Make sure you check out their menu and their selection of Asian beers and sake. See you there!


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Digital Drawing: A Modern Alphabet

A lot of people have asked me how I create my drawings digitally so today I'm going to give you a quick tour of how it's done. I have to preface this by saying that I love drawing with pencil and paper (nothing compares to it) especially when you're doing life drawings of nudes and still life. That said, the mouse has become a great tool for illustrating the concepts I have in my mind in a hyper-realist way that prints in rich, saturated colors, lending a quality of manufactured perfection that I adore in fashion magazines. But it's a process like everything else and while changes are a "click of a mouse" away, sometimes it's more laborious than traditional drawing. For most projects I use Adobe Illustrator and sometimes Adobe Photoshop. Both are integral to our company's success and everyday function. My latest project sparked from our obsession with mid-century furniture and objects. We're heavily into everyday objects of that era and earlier. I couldn't get over my need to illustrate the shapes and lines of some of my favorite pieces so I started drawing the Diamond chair by Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), an icon of Modern era pieces. With its curved chrome rods contouring to the body and guiding the eyes back and forth, it's the perfect marriage of form and function. The idea of illustrating struck immediately as I saw the finished chair (second from the top left, in place of the "B").

Once a piece or designer comes to mind that I want to recreate, I bring in a digital photo to help me shape the outline.

I literally use the mouse and "draw" with it on the mousepad.

With a computer, instead of using an eraser (although there's one of those too), I click to straighten, curve or reposition each line segment individually. Above, I'm fixing the angle of a line that I drew previously. (I think this takes longer than drawing with a pencil)!

I'm making final adjustments so that all letters and furniture pieces are balanced using the graph and ruler tools. I think this project took me about twenty hours to create.

The final poster is printed on heavyweight archival photographic paper with professional grade inks. It's 18 x 12 inches and I'm incredibly  proud of this limited edition run of 50. I can't wait to get one framed and hang it in our home too! If you're in the area, we'll be offering the poster (A Modern Alphabet, $65) along with other custom works at our opening at June Moon Furniture on May 3rd. I'll be on hand signing prints and giving advice on framing, hanging, collecting and more!


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Challenge: Point vs Pro | Why Do You Need A Professional Photographer Anyway?

We've gotten a few photo shoots under our belt since the start of the company and we have to say, we're pretty happy with the results. From food to portraits, we've been able to offer a variety of takes on what the client wants while injecting our own flavor into things. Thing is, there's still some apprehension from time to time about what it is we do, why we do it and if it's truly that different than just picking up a camera and taking a point and shoot photo. The answer is "yes!" We don't strive for just good enough, we want exceptional. See for yourself.

People may not always be able to voice what it is about the photo that doesn't seem quite right until they see a proper example of how it should be done. You're probably wondering what we shot with and why there's such a drastic difference. The shot on the left was taken with our trusty Nikon Coolpix S4100. It's a great camera for fun, social gatherings. But if you're a business owner wondering why your mailers aren't getting response or why you can't achieve the results as we did on the right, it's because we pack and bring an entire studio with us.

Although a point and shoot camera is good for documentation it only offers one light source from a fixed point. For the professional shots, items were lit from the side with the assistance of white bounce cards to fill and highlight, making the item more robust. Every aspect of the shoot is in a controlled environment, much like the food campaign we shot a couple weeks ago. If you've ever wondered about professional photography, we're happy to answer your questions.

We look forward to working with you.



Our Latest Project: Objet D'art | One-of-a-kind art objects

We met with Sava's Restaurant in Ann Arbor last week and we're happy to announce that we'll be taking over the upstairs lounge area with our art. We've never curated a non-gallery setting like this and we're really excited to collaborate and match the ultra contemporary and comfy look. We got on it immediately. After a quick brainstorming session, the series Objet D'art was born. This also gave us a chance to print and frame our new series of school desk prints.

Each item is a print illustrated or photo taken by us and carefully hand matted with coordinating accessories. Whether you see one or in a grouping, we're making an experience that we, and hopefully you, have never seen before.

We'll be hanging things salon-style but adapted to the space to get the most beautiful effect. Since we have long spaces to cover, our groupings will be spaced out with most pieces centered at 60 inches from the ground, the professional standard for installing art.

What do you think of these? We're looking for some feedback before the big installation takes place. Right now we're just enjoying having "piles" of art around the studio. Soon we'll have them in our store too. Have a great weekend!


OBJECT D'ART - (dimensions denote frame size, shipping is extra)  5 x 7 inch : $25 and up  |  8 x 10 inch: $45 and up  |  Pairs of 8 x 10 inch: $80 and up



Good Eatin'.

In the mood for a sweet potato quinoa burger, with roasted garlic and fresh red onions on a hearty, multigrain bun? Look no further than Ann Arbor's own Jazzy Veggie, on the north end of Main Street. Owner and vegetarian, Ananth Pullela (Andy), was less than satisfied with the vegetarian options he encountered while dining out. So, he collaborated with Chef Kevin and together they created a menu that will satisfy all that prefer not to eat meat and even many that do.

We were more than happy to work with Anne-Marie Kim, the head designer of Genui Forma, and Andy, to capture images that best represent his amazing products. Below are some of the mouth watering results.

(Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger)

(Spaghetti and Veggie Balls, foreground; Mushroom Spinach Alfredo, background)

(Carrot Cake)(The Wolverine Burger - Marinated and grilled veggie patty, sautéed onions, roasted peppers, guacamole and tomato basil aioli)

(Bello - Marinated and grilled portabella mushrooms, sautéed onions, tomatoes, fresh basil, Italian cheese and chipotle aioli on grilled artisan bread)


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What Do You Do?

People get advertising. People get interior design. But when we tell people we own an "art and design firm," people don't get that. At least not exactly. So we're taking this opportunity to tell you what it is that Chin-Azzaro is about and exactly what "art and design" entails. Since I'm trained in art history and studio art and have years of experience in curating, dealing and installing art, my forté is just that: art. N has incredible knowledge in modern photo history, dark room techniques, digital photography and retouching as well as large scale art installation. He's shot everything from food to fashion to tabletop catalog. And believe me, each is incredibly different and requires a specific set of tools and knowledge. In the last four months we've painted murals, custom commissions, framed art, created print and illustration series, photographed families and children, illustrated the floor plans and concept for a new business, shot art works for artists, installed paintings and given referrals for conservation and framing.


Basically, we're trained and experienced in all areas of fine art and photography. We can design a work space for you in the home and then find you the furniture to fill it with. Then we'll shoot the photo, retouch it and send it to all your clients for you. Or, if you're building an art collection, we'll purchase, install and archive all your works. We handle anything and everything that has to do with aesthetics, style and living with it.

Here are the services we offer:

Art appraisal (American art)  |  Art consulting | Art bidding + selling at auction  | Art installation  | Art packing + shipping

Commercial art + furniture acquisition

Commissions: murals, paintings, photography

Conservation + Restoration referrals

Curatorial + Research services

Framing expertise

Photography: Art, Portrait, Landscape, Editorial, Food, Fashion

Even if you just have a quick question or want to chat about art, we're here to help!

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Mother of all Contests: Photo Narrative Giveaway

We're doing something that we haven't seen before and it's huge.  From now until noon on March 6th, 2012, you can enter to win a professional photo shoot with the one and only Nick Azzaro (well, actually we know of at least two others...) but this is the only one we know of that shoots incredible photos. His style is dark, dramatic and full of surprises. This is not an ordinary, "say cheese" kind of shoot. Think storytelling, original and dangerous.

The Photo Narrative Giveaway* is easy to enter. Simply email us, go to our Facebook page (and like us) or Twitter page (and follow us) and answer the question, "Who's your favorite photographer and why?" No matter how brilliant your answer, we're still going to keep it fair and choose three winners by random on March 6th. We'll let you know who won that evening and those lucky people win a one hour photo session shoot along with three digital images that they can do what ever they want 'em! Full details and rules can be found on our website. Good luck!

*Sorry folks, you must travel to Ann Arbor for the shoot.



Animating Life

It's not too often anymore that we stop and really engage in a commercial. So we were pleasantly surprised when we saw Chipotle's latest. Not only did it have Willie Nelson singing a great cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist", the stylized and whimsical presentation of our manufactured and pumped-up meat industry had us scrambling to watch it again. Irish graphic designer turned animator Johnny Kelly was the brain behind this great piece. [youtube]

A couple years ago we watched the documentary Food Inc. which gave us a quick snapshot of just how monopolized and manipulated our food is. Thanks to Chipotle for reminding us that what we put into our bodies is worth thinking about everyday.



Icy hot.

My father has always enjoyed photographing wooded winter landscapes, while I like more urban and abstract scenes. The sun broke through the clouds yesterday just before sunset, allowing me to capture the winter woods as I see them (and then some). -N-



Join us for Jamuary

Yep, it's Jamuary. You read that right. Who cares if it's snowing and 20 degrees out before the wind chill factor? We're still playing the music as loud as ever, we don't sleep til the photos are processed and all the paintings are hung level. And it's not just for kids. Want to know what the difference is between a print and a reproduction? Need your sculpture, print or painting installed? Give us a call today.  734-929-2498


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Edible Art: Sweet potato and beef soup with harvest blend

-N- and I love to cook. If we had cable again, the only thing we would watch regularly is Top Chef. This morning I made french toast - just for myself. Cooking is another art form that allows exploration, discovery and we're always looking for new things to try. A staple this cold season has been homemade soup. It's so easy to incorporate flavors, color and tons of nutritional value.  I felt stirred to post this entry with its great colors and textures, it's almost like building a composition for a painting. Here's my stab at culinary art. 

I don't believe that the base of soup should be new. Meaning, I'll bake an entire chicken for dinner one night and the next day I'll strip it of most of the meat and put the whole chicken in the pot for the base. Last night, we had two thick rib eye steaks and sweet potato and russet potato. Since I would've had a heart attack had I eaten the whole thing I saved it along with the leftover potatoes and stashed them in the fridge. Soup for us is comforting deliciousness and getting the combination of starch, protein and spice isn't always quite right. But today's soup made me smile as I scooped my second serving. I'm definitely adding this to my repertoire. Try my recipe for Sweet Potato and Beef Soup.

Prep time: 20 min.

Cook time: At least 45 min.


1/4 red onion, chopped fine

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 sweet potato and 1 russet potato cooked or uncooked, cubed small (any combination works but I highly recommend the contrast of the sweet)

4-6 ounces of cooked steak, cubed

1 cup Trader Joe's Harvest Blend - a mixture of red quinoa, lentils, cous cous, orzo

1/2 cup frozen peas (or any small colorful vege, corn would be great too)

beef or chicken bouillon cubes (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Put a large pot over medium heat and warm a small pat of butter or olive oil in it. As it starts to sizzle, drop in onions, garlic, frozen peas and cubed beef. Stir for a couple minutes until onions begin to sweat and become translucent. Add 2-3 quarts of water depending on your pot size. At this point, you can add a bouillon cube or two for taste. (I find that if you cook soup long enough for the flavors to marry, you don't need these. They work great, though, if you're in a pinch and can't cook the soup that long). If you're using uncooked potatoes, drop them in now. Bring the soup to a rolling boil and mix in the Harvest Blend, lower to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. If you're using cooked potatoes, drop them in after the soup has simmered for at least 30 minutes as to not break the starch down further. Add salt and pepper to taste. I would suggest grinding fresh pepper and sprinkling parmesan shavings if you have it. Serve immediately with crusty bread. Bon apetit! Let me know what you think!


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On the set: The Berenfeld Family

We had the pleasure of photographing the beautiful Berenfeld Family in their home. Front and center were Sophia, Elan and Sebastian along with parents, Celina and Omer. We met Celina a few weeks back when we were just getting settled into the business. As the owner of The Art Conservation Laboratory of Michigan, she shares our vision in aesthetics and maintaining art to its utmost potential. More importantly, her family is just as warm and lovely as she is.

Once we got warmed up, there were a lot of stories to be told.

Perhaps even a few that shouldn't have been shared!

Aren't the kids adorable?? Thank you, Berenfelds, for sharing your time and home with us!

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