• 36 Hours in Cincinnati

    mercer street over the rhine cincinnati

    The New York Times’ travel itinerary for the fair city I call home took Cincinnati by storm. Cincy natives and transplants alike boasted and blushed with the Times’ attention to what has long-been an industrial city on the banks of a river.

    Our simpleton reputation as a pork and beer city is no more. Today, Cincinnati is a “booming” city with thriving arts, brewery, foodie and recreational scenes. There is plenty to do, see and experience in Cincy that even the 36 hours defined in the NYT’s write-up is hardly enough time to scratch the surface of all that Cincinnati has to offer.

    I moved to Cincy three years ago, after marrying a proud Cincinnati native. He loves this city like a king loves his kingdom. He boasts at Findlay Market’s historic significance as the longest running market; at the Roebling Bridges’ role as the prototype to the Brooklyn Bridge; and, of course, to the Reds’ historic fame as the first professional baseball team.

    Moving to Cincy from Chicago meant that there was a bit of … shall we say, “transition,” (more like fits and fights) for me to find the nuances of Queen City living that make it so spectacular. Familiarity with places like Millennium Park, the shores of Lake Michigan and the marvel of public transit that is the “El” meant that humble lil’ Cincinnati couldn’t compete for my heartstrings.

    But compete it has. And this past weekend, as host to my Chicago roomie for 36 hours, I tested and tried – and found true – that Cincinnati not only competes, but hits a few home runs.

    hours in cincinnati

    Below in my own take on “36 Hours Cincinnati”  with personal commentary on where and how Cincinnati surprised and delighted not only my guest, but me as well.


    5:30 PM: Dinner reservations at Salazar – Owned by James Beard nominee Jose Salazar, this delightful 40-person restaurant in the heart of Over-the-Rhine serves New American fare. Early reservations meant we slid in during Happy Hour and successfully tasted several dishes for an amazing price.

    7 PM: Final Friday – We lucked out in that my roomie visited during “Final Friday” weekend, a monthly event hosted by the galleries and shops of Over-the-Rhine in which they “open their doors for a special showing.” We wandered the streets of OTR and up to Pendleton Art Center to pay witness to the established – and always growing – art scene.

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    9:00 AM: Coffee Emporium – A short walk from our home, Coffee Emporium in East Hyde Park offers the perfect Saturday morning brew to welcome the weekend. Even better is that my roomie, a bonafide coffee snob, gave their coffee two thumbs up. Drink up!

    10:00 AM: Oakley O.F.F. Market – Hosted monthly throughout the summer in Oakley Square, this street-fair shows off the creative, entrepreneurial spirit of Cincinnati. Stop by artisan baker Gadabout Doughnuts and ask for the Earl Grey with Lemon Drizzle. Yum!!

    12:30 PM: Lunch at Panino, OTR – Head back downtown to catch OTR in the daylight. We ate lunch at Panino where my roomie touted the meatball sandwich as “worth the trip to Cincinnati all by itself.”

    3:00 PM: Findlay Market food tour by Cincinnati Food Tours – $20 gets you a guided tour of five Findlay Market vendors, each of whom share their stories. A fantastic way to learn more of Cincinnati history using all five senses. Highly recommend!!

    5:00 PM: Farm Chores at Turner Farm – As a member of Turner Farm’s meat program, I commit to caring of the animals at this organic educational farm just outside of Cincinnati city limits. Farming doesn’t take a break for guests, but fortunately my guest was willing to tag along as I fed and watered the pigs, sheep and horses. For your own itinerary, consider simply visiting the farm – it’s always free and open to the public and shows how Cincinnatians can enjoy urban and rural life all within a 20 minute drive.

    7:30 PM: Dinner at Mazunte Taqueria – Inconspicuous and humble with its strip mall facade, this Mexican joint complete with salsa bar, serves fare worthy of your “last meal on earth.” (my words). Try the chicken tostadas and margarita on the rocks for a winning combo.

    9:00 PM: Madtree Brewery – Any trip to Cincinnati must include a brewery stop. We chose Madtree for its location in our neighborhood and its indoor-outdoor space that can’t be beat. Even for non-beer drinkers, the airplane hangar-turned-brewery makes for an impressive display.

    john a roebling bridge cincinnati loveyourcincinnati


    9:00 AM: Brunch at Home – Nothing is closer to eating local than eggs you collected yourself the day before at Turner Farm.

    10:00 AM: Red Bike along the Banks – Head downtown one final time to ride along the Banks via Red Bike. $8 for the entire day, Sunday morning proved the best time to show off Cincinnati from the banks of the Ohio River. Ride over the Roebling Bridge and say a quick hello  to our Kentucky neighbors.

    12:30 PM: Ice cream for lunch at Graeter’s – Finish the trip with a milkshake from Cincinnati’s hometown scoop-ery. It’s a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression on the merits of Cincinnati!

    cincinnati from mt adamsThis post was originally shared as part of the Parisi Images’ monthly newsletter. Sign up to receive these monthly stories straight to your inbox by sending your email to [email protected]

    Are you planning to host family or friends in Cincinnati? Consider adding a portrait session to your itinerary to capture the fun times together. Traditional and lifestyle portrait sessions available and make for a great way to celebrate your “together-ness”! Email [email protected] for details.

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  • Parisi Images on Instagram @SarahParisiDowlin : #LoveYourCincinnati

    Growing up in a military family meant that my childhood moved locations—Colorado, to Ohio, to New England, then back again to Ohio. I know many kids whose families moved much more frequently than mine, but three moves in a childhood isn’t without significance.

    Immediately after graduating college, I moved to Wheaton, IL. From my first day with a 60187 zip code, I went about the business of “becoming local” to my new, and arguably first, hometown.

    Learning to “Become Local”

    Becoming local to Wheaton initially meant conversation. Having a dog and no backyard forced me in to a rhythm of conversation with my neighbors as the pup and I journeyed around the block each sunrise and sunset. These neighborly conversations informed me of the local high school rivals. And where to get the best Thai. And the politics of business development on Main Street.

    Once I started Parisi Images, photography also became a way for me to “become local” to my town. Work and pleasure coincided, making me a part of the town in ways otherwise not possible. I photographed buildings at the local college, fundraising events at the local zoo, and holiday parades in the streets of downtown. Through this work, the camera became a tool for becoming local.

    Becoming Local to Cincinnati through #LoveYourCincinnati

    This year I moved again—this time for a boy. A fiancé, really. If there was ever a good reason to pick up roots, relocate a growing business and “start all over,” I’d dare say a fiancé is the best one there is.

    But good—even best reasons, aside—it means that I’m new again. I’m starting over in digging roots. In building a client base. In knowing how to navigate the local streets and the local speak.

    With these challenges ahead, I’m looking to and through my camera as a vital part of my becoming local to Cincinnati. To this end, I’ve started a project titled Love Your Cincinnati.

    Through this project, I will be photographing my new environment while I uncover the nuances of its character. As I discover my new hometown for the first time, I hope those already local to this place will discover—and rediscover—why you love your Cincinnati.

    Won’t you join me? All images posted to Instagram (sneak peak below). Follow along @SarahParisiDowlin, #loveyourcincinnati

    parisi images on instagram loveyourcincinnati

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  • Custom Stock Photography for StephanieRische.com

    Earlier, I shared some headshots I photographed for Stephanie Rische, an incredible blogger and writer. Another aspect of this same assignment included photographing stock photography for her blog. The images were used in the new design I created for her at www.StephanieRische.com as both printable artwork and as buttons on the Archives page.

    crumb_of_grace_brennan_manning_quote_stephanie_rische_blogbook_of_common_prayer_stock_photo_dayton_oh_photographerfriday_calendar_muffins_stock_photographybowl_of_red_pears_in_white_bowl_stock_photo_sarah_parisi Read more

  • Midwest Wedding Photographer Gallery and Studio Space

    interior design by chicago and wheaton il photographer

    Yesterday, I posted images of what my home office looks like. Today, I am really excited to share images of the gallery space I created for client consultations and other meetings.

    The actual space is a small (barely over 100 square feet) four-season porch attached to the back of the house. It offers just enough room to do what I love—invite a bride a groom over to share in some wine or coffee and spend the evening sharing our stories. If you meet with me, you’ll soon learn that the reason I photograph weddings is because I love stories…and I want you to see and to know that your story is beautiful, just the way it is. The design of the space is driven by the the idea of generous hospitality—the table—an old farmstand table painted white—holds center stage. Just like so many kitchen tables, it’s at the table where we get to know one another, where the sharing, the giving, the receiving all take place when you come for a visit.

    For other photographers out there interested in what went into creating this space, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it all stems directly from my brand and packaging materials. One way to know if your branding is working for you is to see how well it translates into a variety of uses, purposes and spaces. I initially planned to create a “living room” scene with a sofa and large-screen display. After a great deal of trial-and-error, I came to realize the space was just too small to provide ample room for a couch. Plan B evolved into pairing down the furniture to absolute essentials—a table and seating. Using a bench on one side of the table offered enough seating for clients without filling the room with excess chairs and keeps the visual appeal of the space tight and tidy. The room divider filled with images creates a small entryway, accented by a stool showcasing the circle emblem of my logo (I personally love this touch!). Most of all, I intentionally filled the space with gallery wraps, large prints and sample albums, giving clients the ability to really envision ways they can make use of their own images.

    Lastly, much of what I have in the gallery space are the same pieces I use at bridal fairs. See how I use it at the Cantigny Bridal Show in this earlier post.

    Bench: Kmart
    Coat Rack: Iron Accents
    Doormat: Doormats & More
    Farm Table: Antiques of Winfield
    Room Divider: Hobby Lobby
    Stool: Target (see how I added the custom logo at http://www.thediyvillage.com/2012/08/vintage-industrial-bar-stools.html

    All other items are family heirlooms, found on the side of the road, or antiques.

    Related Post:

    Bonus Material! Check out what the rest of my home looks like on my personal blog, This Beautiful Life.

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  • Chicago and Midwest Wedding Photographer Home Office

    noah and the whale poster art chicago photographer office space

    For those of us lucky enough to have a commute as short as a few yards, our office space is an essential piece of the place we call home. I, personally, am always intrigued to see the environs where other artists create their work and thought I’d share images of the space where the magic of Parisi Images actually happens.

    Perhaps the element of my office that is closest to my heart are the three, large typographic “signs” I created for one wall. I designed these signs to include a list of things, ideas, places and passions that inspire me. I love taking breaks throughout the day to glance over and read through the list. The words remind me of who I am and why I do what I do.

    Do you have a favorite part of your office, home or otherwise? Tell me about it in the comments!

    Desks: Morlen Sinoway Atelier
    Glass Jars: Ikea
    Landscape Photograph of Charlottesville, VA: Jack Cacciatore Photography
    Monogram Mug: Anthropologie
    Spotlight Lamp: Target
    Typographic “Subway” Signs: Artwork made by Sarah; Printed by Easy Canvas Prints; Frames from Art to Frames
    Vintage Owl Clips: Etsy

    All other items are family heirlooms, found on the side of the road or discovered in thrift/antique shops.

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  • Annie : Dayton, OH Baby Portrait Photography

    annie wheaton il portrait photographer

    I spent a few days at my parents’ home in Dayton, Ohio this past week…and guess who was there! My niece, baby Annie. With her mother’s nose, her father’s mouth, and her aunt’s love of puppies, she is getting cuter everyday!

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  • Welcoming the New Year—2013 Calendar by Wheaton IL Photographer

    wheaton il farm photography primrose st. charles

    If you worked with Parisi Images this past year, you can soon expect a little letter from yours truly to make its way to your mailbox. Inside you’ll find this limited-edition 2013 calendar I created as a special way to say “Thank You” to each one of you who made this past year so wonderful. I cannot tell you enough how grateful I am to have had the chance to share life with each one of my clients and genuinely wish everyone a new year full of love and laughter.

    The calendar includes 12 personal photographs I took while visiting various farms throughout the year (did you know I was interested in farming?) including images from Primrose Farm in St. Charles, Illinois, Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Polyface Farms in Staunton, Virginia. This is the first year I’ve done anything like this so, like always, I’d love to know what you think!

    wheaton il wedding photographer 2013 calendar

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  • Food Now : Kansas City Locavore Event Photography

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    With 2012 weddings all but wrapped up, I am excited to finally share images from Food Now, an amazing locavore fundraising event I photographed this past summer in Kansas City, Missouri.

    I was thrilled to be part of such a great event that aspires to educate the local community about the importance of eating healthy, local foods. Farmers from the surrounding area contributed all of the food for the event dinner and local celebrity chefs prepared the fantastic feast. Perhaps best of all, the event took place at an über unique and trendy venue—the 12th St. Bridge in the West Bottoms.

    Each year, proceeds from the event go to local not-for-profits working for local, healthier eating. This year’s beneficiaries included Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, The Dream Factory of Greater Kansas City, and The Food Conservancy.

    Tip: Click on any image to view a larger version.

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