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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.

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The Fall Classics

Autumn is an amazing time of year. Unfortunately it's also a very busy time. School begins, baseball is coming to a close (for better or worse), football is heating up and politicians are getting mud everywhere. Although ever-present, the little things can go unnoticed. In case you missed them:

This new series of photographs was shot in our home studio and will be available during the upcoming holiday fair Tiny Expo. If you're interested in ordering a custom size or amount, just let us know. They frame beautifully and make an exceptional gift.

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Acting the Part

You may have seen some of these photos of N on our Facebook page, but we had to share them here too. He has a knack for creating gritty movie scenes and people love it. Thing is, we're still mostly getting requests for traditional portrait. So our question to you is, are you game for some dramatic fun? We're booking holiday sessions right now. A la carte packages include up to four "costume" changes, styling, lighting and multiple locations plus all rights and usage. It would be the ultimate present. Contact us for all the details.

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Blossom : Something Beautiful is Brewing

Oh boy. We have a lot of explaining to do. We've been MIA for a bit. N's shot four campaigns in the last two weeks and I've been working with a client that has a huge store launch in just a few weeks. Please excuse us as we get caught up and share tons of goodies as we near our 1 year anniversary of Chin-Azzaro. Yes, that happens later this month! We're putting together the photo and branding campaign for an exciting new company called Blossom (a website is coming very soon). It's a floral company that offers weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or fully custom delivery to your home or business and they do incredible work. The first photo shoot was a ton of fun with creative deliberation over color, texture and shape. These contemporary bundled jewels are perfect for the upcoming holidays (imagine a row of them as a centerpiece!), a thank-you gift for a client or a welcome sight in the office.

They've already launched a beta circulation of arrangements to a few customers and the feedback has been astounding. We're thrilled to be a part of this new idea and can't wait to see it grow in Ann Arbor and beyond. For information on how you can get onto their limited waiting list now or get an arrangement today, call 734-230-2148 and ask for Edward. You'll love Blossom!

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Fashion Forward: Tribehaus Clothing

We love meeting other creative professionals and owner of Tribehause Clothing, Anna Bagozzi is the epitome of fashion and drive. With a loyal following on Facebook and a store launching online this Fall (we'll announce the big day when it comes!), we were thrilled to be a part of the process.

Anna chooses her inventory of clothing and accessories personally and relishes in choosing not only the latest trends but classic looks too. Our first collaboration was with her gorgeous variety of jewelry including the popular line Chan Luu along with other great pieces which will be featured on her site. Anna has great vision and it totally aligns with our aesthetic. See what exciting things she's up to and check back for more from Tribehaus soon!

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Olympics Photo Controversy: Is there such thing as "Good" and "Bad"? **With Update**

The 2012 London Olympics are just a few weeks away with trials going on now and lots of coverage on athletes and their stories. In the last couple days we couldn't help but notice the scathing articles about photos of athletes taken by Joe Klamar. Normally a photojournalist and documentary photographer, his images are being called, "shoddy" and "amateur." Reading through the comments, the public's consensus is a mixed bag. Some think that there's nothing wrong with the photos because they find the lack of Photoshop refreshing. (By the way, we don't think the athletes need more than a blemish fixed up here and there). But others still think that he shouldn't be called a photographer. We'll share our thoughts in a moment. What do you think? Here's a typically, traditional Olympic portrait.

Here are Joe Klamar's photos.

Notice how uneven the lighting is, how shadows fall starkly across faces and torsos. You can read the lines and imperfections in the back drop material. These photos were taken for the AFP and Getty, to be used for all promotional purposes in endorsing the U.S. team for the upcoming events that will be seen by millions around the world. There's a time and place for all types of styles but the kind of harsh shadows that fall across the face and lack of even lighting not only detract from the athletes form but paint them in a negative light. Which now begs the question, did Klamar do this one purpose? Was he working on a personal agenda to document the athletes for his own purpose? And if so, why didn't he approach the athletes separately? Or, is this sought-after photojournalist who's on-location shots are respected, a bit lacking in knowledge of studio photography? Don't be surprised.

There are numerous photographers, even big-name ones that don't know how to light a subject - person or object. The assistants do all that. So it's not that far fetched that a shooter hired by the Getty may not have on-set experience. Since Klamar hasn't released a statement and can't defend himself, we can only highlight the differences in how the first photo taken by Earnest reads and how his differ. We're just a bit disappointed that the U.S. now has this story highlighting their athletes in such a negative way. The Olympics are all about strength, top sportsmanship and putting our best hand forward. This is hardly what we would see for our U.S. athletes. So now ask yourself, are these photos "good" or "bad"? Would you expect such work from a professional?

N has photographed many subjects in extreme set ups with purposeful shadows. That said, he wouldn't have taken this opportunity to exploit his own style for such a major platform. We hope that this doesn't mar our athlete's perceptions of themselves on the world stage.

**Update: Last night, July 5th, ABC World News touched on this subject. There was a statement released from the agency (in this case AFP and/or Getty) saying that the proper equipment was not present and had they known that the athletes were expected to be shot, they would have prepared for it. N has traveled the world on photo shoots and there's never been a time that there weren't loads of equipment prepped and on hand for the situation. Even if equipment was lost in transit you have an assistant call and find all the necessary equipment - quickly.

That said, there was still use of one strobe and a backdrop, which to N, has all the makings of a pretty decent photo. Through N's deductive and professional estimates, Klamar didn't take advantage of the equipment available. Plain and simple. Here are two shots N took with the exact equipment available to Klamar, one strobe and a backdrop. The first exemplifies even color and light temperature. The second exudes a more stylized mood than what would be typically expected of an Olympic athlete portrait, but you can see the possibilities and how romantic a portrait can be when considerations are taken.**

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Finishing the Look: How to Choose Frames for your Art, Part 2

As I mentioned in Friday's post, framing is truly the finishing touch to collecting and displaying art. The embellishment (or lack thereof) in a frame and mat is the window which lends an air of intent, theme and mood to the piece. For art with historical content, a period frame (one original to the same era in which the painting was created and at times the only frame that has accompanied the work), is important to its integrity and scholarship. In this photo you see that the frames are ornate and intricately fashioned. Many of these frames are original to the period (mid to late 19th century) and are also hand-carved, a sign of workmanship that is rare to find today except in exclusive framing and high end art dealing.

Image: Cleveland Art Museum

When we look at contemporary art in the same academic setting the trend has swayed toward minimalism, leaving large canvases to fend for themselves against white walls. What do you think of this contradictory handling between say, Impressionism and Contemporary art? Does scale have anything to do with the lack of a frame?

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are a few key things that should be consistent when you'r shopping for frames. The larger the piece, the wider the width of the frame should be. This is for safety as well as visual reasons. Imagine a poster sized painting being framed by a 1 inch wide frame. Not only would that be off-balance visually, it would be hard for a piece of glass to be held in place by such a small frame. Conversely, the smaller a piece of art, the thinner the width of the frame. There are always exceptions to this rule, if you're looking to make a large impact but these are general guidelines to keep in mind.

The above reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish painting is an example of a well-fitted frame. Adding about three inches on either side, it lends a nice contrast to the lighter palette of the work and is wide enough to visually balance the large image.

Image: East and Orient

These prints are no larger than 8" x 10" and are handsomely housed in thin width frames, no larger than 1 inch. They also have a matching mat with a beveled edge liner in gold/tan to draw attention to the outer line of matching color. This gives the series an overall motif to match the subject matter.

If you're considering a colored frame, that's an adventurous and effective choice to enhance the painting. Make sure that you choose complementary hues rather than trying to match the painting to its exact palette. For instance, the nature series above would have looked handsome with a dark wood frame or even a marbled wood with various tones to pick up all the different neutral tones in the piece.

Ask the framer or bring a friend along if you're unsure about choosing frames. Ultimately, it should be an engaging and exciting experience. And don't fret about it if you get it back and it doesn't look quite right, framing can always be changed to match the mood of the painting. Good luck!

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Finishing the Look: Framing Your Pieces, Part 1

It doesn't matter what you're hanging on the wall, framing (and matting) a piece makes all the difference in the world. If you can afford to have a professional do it, I urge you to. (If it's a piece on canvas, many times a piece won't require framing, it's simply an aesthetic decision. See instructions for installing eye hooks and wire below). Even if you've never done it before, it's an enriching experience on top of purchasing the art itself. Additionally, a framer follows a process of securing and using materials that are acid-free which maintain the current health of a piece. Using masking tape and everyday tools can actually harm the condition of your work.

When you arrive, the framer will ask you a few questions such as: Do you want regular or museum glass? Would you like a mat? Are you looking for metal or wood frames?

Glass

Regular glass is heavier and will have the glare that you're typically used to. If you have a piece of art that you're adamant about hanging in direct sunlight or an archival piece or photograph, you may want to spring for the museum glass which is UV-coated and will allow you to enjoy your piece with little to no glare or reflective qualities. Typically, it runs 25-50% more than regular glass. A third option for large works of art is plexiglass. In the unfortunate case that it were to be dropped, the plexiglass wouldn't shatter, possibly damaging the art underneath - or the person carrying it.

Matting

The mat is the heavy board piece that surrounds the actual art. You may not realize it, but there are an endless array of colors to choose from including dozens of shades of white. The larger the piece, usually the wider the mat. If a piece is very large however, say 24" x 36", it may not visually require a mat.

Frames

You'll notice that there are a hundreds of frame corners surrounding you on the walls. These are meant to sit on the corner of the piece or mat for comparison. Don't be shy about asking to see different colors or finishes in the same style, they're usually available.

Typically, metal frames are recommended for contemporary or modern (mid-20th century) pieces. Wood and ornately carved frames are better fit for historical pieces or portraits and landscapes. There are always exceptions to the rule and your framer will have some great suggestions to handle each situation.  *Tomorrow's post will be about the aesthetic aspects of framing so check back for that!*

Do(ing)-It-Yourself

If you find that you can't afford to take a piece to the framers, look for pieces that are standard frame sizes such as 5" x 7", 8" x 10", 9" x 12", 11" x 14", 16" x 20", 20" x 24", 24" x 36 and 30" 40". There will be other sizes depending on manufacturers but these are the most common. Remember to figure in a mat size if you choose to use one. They're available at most craft and art supply stores and some carry frames with mats included.

Image: Lazy Peacock

Once you have the parts you need, find a clean, dust-free environment. Make sure you're using acid-free tape for suspending pieces from the mat or foam board you're posting against. Use a ruler and level so that all measurements and cuts are plumb.

Install the pieces of your frame in this order: glass, mat (if you're using one), art attached with acid-free tape attached to backing, foamboard (if necessary to meet the back edge of the frame), staple back edges of frame.

These are the first steps to framing your own pieces handsomely and securely. But as I mentioned before, there's nothing like the archival and professional finish of a framer! Good luck!

Preparing a canvas for hanging

Here's what you'll need: eye hooks (make sure you buy the proper size for the weight of canvas you'll be hanging), picture hanging wire, picture hanging kit (look for proper weight)

1. Using a ruler, measure 1/3 down from the top of the canvas on both inner sides of the stretcher (the wood vertical bar the canvas is stretched over). Mark with pencil. Don't worry if they're not level.

2. Screw in an eye hook into both marks. *Make sure you've screwed the eye hooks against the inner facing stretcher bar. Imagine if they're sticking out from the back, they'll leave scratches on the wall when hung. If you've done this by mistake, you can put rubber bumpers on each corner to keep this from happening.

3. Cut 10" more than the width of the canvas. String the wire through an eye hook leaving a tail of 3 inches. Carefully (the ends of the wire are sharp!) wrap the tail around the wire in tight corkscrews. Repeat on the other side, leaving a slack at top of wire. If the wire exceeds the top of the frame when you pull it taut, trim the wire or wrap more on the other eye hook.

4. Voila! It's ready to hang and dazzle you - and your guests.

Check back for Monday's post on how to choose frames that complement the art. Have a great weekend!

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A Milestone for Chin-Azzaro, Personally-speaking

Yesterday we didn't take any appointments. Instead, we hid out from the world a bit to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Not only do we have the privilege of working together, we're partners in life, sparring about all the little things that matter. For most couples gifts and dinner are in order. We like to take it an extra step and document things in style. For every marketing plan I want to implement, N has a campaign concept.

For every advertising placement, N has an accompanying image.

When we think of how far we've come...

...it's exciting to rediscover the place we met.

For better or worse, when you call on us, you get a package deal. Our innovation, all preconceived notions cast aside, our vision.

It's worked well for us so far.

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A New Attitude

How was your holiday weekend? Ours was fabulous! We've been doing some minor rehaul in the design and branding department. It has become pretty apparent that we're uber busy doing lots of things but it really comes down to two parts: art and photography (with lots of sub categories under those umbrellas). We're happy to nail down the nitty gritty of what we do and we drew it up in a slightly new design.

This will be for our updated business card later this summer, similar to the square orientation we've been using all along but with pared down text. We wanted a striking aesthetic in the first two seconds we handed them out. People don't let the fact that it's not the standard 2" x 3.5" orientation throw them off. In fact, they embrace it and give us smashing reviews.

What do you think?

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Edward: A Working Man

Our great friend Ed is full of personality. When he asked to have a new professional head shot taken, we jumped at the chance to shoot him in his element: jacket, button up and a whole lot of panache.

Pretty dapper, wouldn't you say? So we veered a bit from the typical corporate shots but we got those too. If you need professional photos and aren't afraid to laugh and kick back, give us a holler.

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