• Camera Ready

    Professional Photographers, Hip Children’s Clothing And A Candy-Coated Backdrop Make PhotoOp A Picture-Perfect Destination For Families

    By Alessandra Hickson

    The glam
    dressing room, with its lightbulb-framed vanity mirror and mound of beauty
    products, is fit for a celebrity. But it’s not starlets who will be playing
    dress-up here—it’s New
    York City
    kids.

    Welcome to
    PhotoOp, the new Upper
    West Side
    portrait studio that turns out cool, elegant photos of the whole family. Kids
    of all ages (even newborns) are given star treatment here, injecting the
    typical portrait experience with pizzazz. The end result? Fun, modern,
    professional portraits that showcase each child’s personality and sense of
    style.

    “The goal is
    fabulous pictures in a stress-free environment,” says Nathan Gindi, a father of
    three and creator of PhotoOp, which opened in February. Gindi, formerly a
    partner at a Manhattan law firm, always loved taking pictures of
    his children. But when it came time to find a portrait studio that offered
    professional images of five-year-old Lynn, three-year-old Sam and
    four-month-old Hannah, Gindi couldn’t find a fit. So he turned to family friend
    and renowned photographer Brian Marcus and pitched the idea of a portrait
    studio for this untapped market.

    “There was
    nothing offering that,” says Gindi. And the few studios that did charged well
    into the thousands for a few snapshots. “My kids change every three months…I
    want to be able to do this every year and not feel that it’s going to cost me
    three or four thousand dollars.”

    At PhotoOp, a
    basic package starts at $99, with add-ons running a shoot up to $450 or more.
    If that still sounds pricy, remember: this isn’t a trip to the local mall’s
    portrait studio. This is an all-inclusive, 45-minute photo shoot with
    experienced photographers, many with backgrounds at top magazines and
    newspapers.

    PhotoOp offers
    trendy wears and accessories from Crewcuts and Zara Kids, your pick of costume
    jewelry and lighting, as well as colorful backdrops like a candy dot wall made
    from edible sweets. On top of the set-up, PhotoOp and its photographers also
    retouch and edit their photos on site.

    “A lot of places
    you go to say, ‘We don’t retouch because they’re babies.’ That’s cockamamie,”
    says Gindi, citing drool as one aspect of baby photography that’s rarely
    desired. The end products are put online in a private album for immediate
    viewing and parents can come in and pick their favorites.

    Families can
    also choose from a wide array of gifts with high-quality printed photos:
    special bags from_MG_3033_Edit.jpg London, trays, make-up bags and more. You can
    even buy Plexiglas prints for the grandparents!

    As for the
    response to the store, Gindi says it’s been “fabulous!” Photos on display in
    the windows draw their fair share of admiring glances from those passing the Columbus Avenue storefront.

    In addition to
    portraiture, PhotoOp offers birthday parties. Ten kids get two hours in the
    studio to either strike a model-esque pose or have an exclusive dance class
    with a professional instructor. Both events include a party hostess and a
    stylist who bring clothing for the party guests and a special outfit for the
    birthday kid. You can also bring in an iPod to rock out to your favorite tunes.

    The added bonus
    of the birthday event is that parents don’t have to take photos—it’s already
    been done for you. “They get their hair done, they get their make-up done, we
    pull down the seamless paper and just shoot fabulous photos of eight or nine or
    ten girls having a blast,” says Gindi.

    Currently Gindi
    and crew are booked solid with shoots on weekends, doing anywhere between six
    and eight sessions per day. During the week, they take three or four shoots a
    day and spend the rest of their time editing and covering events.

    “We always want
    to be out there showing people that this is not a mall shoot. When we’re not
    shooting you, we’re shooting Fendi’s fashion show,” says Gindi. And it’s true.
    Not only is PhotoOp covering Fendi’s Kids’ Fashion Show but they recently shot
    Stuart Weitzman’s Columbus Circle Grand Opening Party with Moms and the City,
    which included uniquely-designed photo strips.

    In the fall,
    families can expect an East Side PhotoOp. Other future plans include a downtown
    store and even one in Brooklyn.

    When Gindi isn’t
    working
    012111_nasser_058.jpg at the studio, he’s enjoying his own photography collection. His tastes
    lie with photos of Frank Sinatra and
    Ella Fitzgerald by late jazz photographer
    Herman Leonard. And of course Gindi busies himself in his all-important role as
    “the fun daddy.”

    “I love being a
    parent. I love being in the city,” says Gindi. Though he admits shuttling his
    three kids around can be difficult for him and his wife. “You try going down Lexington Avenue at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to get to class. It’s
    wild!”

    But he loves
    that Lynn gets to visit the city’s numerous
    museums to see the paintings from her storybooks. And that Sam is singing songs
    about taxis.

    One of Gindi’s
    favorite pictures was taken by a PhotoOp photographer. It’s a sunny day in the
    park with his family. In the snapshot, his son is smiling and running at full
    speed, while Gindi is in the background holding his daughter. The photo could
    be featured in any art magazine, but it’s still natural and fun.

    Fine art meets
    fresh creativity is one way to describe PhotoOp. Another is with Gindi’s own
    words: “I wake up in the morning and say, ‘Everything in here, it’s all
    fabulous!’”

    PhotoOp, 442 Columbus Avenue (at 82nd Street), 212-362-1911,
    photoopnyc.com

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