April 27, 2011

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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