No matter how handy you are with a point-and-shoot, it doesn't take much to realize that those snapshots often pale in comparison to professional pictures. That was Nathan Gindi's thinking last February when he opened PhotoOp (442 Columbus Ave at 81st St; 212-362-1911, photoopnyc.com), a studio on the UWS that specializes in spectacular portraits and lively outdoor shots of kids, babies, families and soon-to-be moms. A former real estate lawyer, Nathan lives on the Upper East Side with his wife Emily, a full-time mother, and their three children, Lynn, 5, Sam, 3, and Hannah, 1.
What was the inspiration behind PhotoOp?
NG Well, I'm first and foremost a dad, and I wanted a place where I could get fabulous, fun pictures of my children in a relaxed environment without spending a fortune. I looked around Manhattan, and lo and behold, there was nothing.
What are your favorite pictures of your own kids from the studio?
EG On a random weekday after school, Nathan took them outside with one of the photographers. It wasn't like a photo shoot, where I stressed about putting them all in coordinating outfits. The photographers took them to the park and got these terrific shots. I love the one of Lynn with her hair going wild in the wind.
NG Our kids absolutely don't sit still, so the best way to get pictures of them is when they're running around. From that shoot we have these particularly great shots of the kids happy and running.
Will you be sending out holiday cards this year?
NG Yes, we just selected them.
EG It's the first time! We've never done them before. They're outdoor shots of the kids from the summer, blown up so each kid has a square, and the cards are purple and white.
Do you find that you take fewer pictures yourselves now that you have professionals around?
NG No, not really.
EG Can I answer that truthfully? He has not picked up our camera since he opened PhotoOp. My albums are suffering!
NG That's not true! I did when we went to Disney World.
Any special plans for the holidays?
NG Every year, my grandfather would take us ice-skating at Rockefeller Center. That's one of my fondest memories of growing up. So every year without fail, I take the kids ice-skating at Rockefeller Center and to see the tree, even though we're Jewish and observe Hanukkah. New York in December is just a wonderful place to be.
"Our kids adore Barney Greengrass (541 Amsterdam Ave at 86th St; 212-724-4707, barneygreengrass.com). It's on the West Side, but we're over there all the time because of the photo studio. They love bagels and smoked salmon—our three-year-old takes it to school every day for lunch."
"We enjoy an afternoon on the Lower East Side, not so much for the hipness there today but for the history. We always stop at Doughnut Plant (379 Grand St at Essex St; 212-505-3700, doughnutplant.com). The kids go crazy for all the different doughnuts."
"We're big Union Square Greenmarket (Union Sq West between 14th and 17th Sts; 212-788-7900, grownyc.org) shoppers. We take the kids there all the time and teach them about what's in season, like why we get apple cider in the fall and strawberries in the summer."
"Sam loves Kids in Sports (multiple Manhattan locations; 212-744-4900, kisnyc.com). It's a class where they focus on the same team sport for two weeks in a row, like soccer and football, and then they do another. He's only three and a half, but he's learning skills."
"We attend every program Jazz at Lincoln Center (33 W 60th St at Columbus Circle; 212-258-9800, jalc.org) offers for families. Last year Michael Feinstein performed popular American songs and Lynn actually got on stage to scat with him!"
"Fred's at Barneys (660 Madison Ave at 61st St; 212-833-2200, barneys.com) is a great place. It's the kind of restaurant where everyone's happy—the adults can enjoy salads and focaccia melts, while the kids chow down on pizza and penne."