I am a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering alluring and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, winner of Adobe contests, PDN/Rangefinder contest Grand-Prix winner, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List. Commissioned by clients from Alaska to India, I brave both New York City metro area and the world, eager to step out of his–and willing clients’–comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.
Specialties: fashion and commercial photography, advertising, underwater photography, body painting, fine arts portraiture, sensual boudoir, fine art maternity, epic wedding photography, and edgy engagement sessions.
Our readers would love to get to know you more Ed. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
In 1987 a 12-year-old boy, fond of drawing, played a grown-up and made up a whole lot of publishing company to give official-sounding home to his fantasy warriors, action heroes, monsters, comics, and doodles. My childhood happenings helped me make up the secret name for it, Zorz. No longer did my artwork have to remain unsigned; self-made comic books proudly started with "Zorz Pictures presents"—just like real movies and comic books! To a boy, it was a big deal. Drawings became more sophisticated and realistic with years and took various iterations, but Zorz Pictures remained a mere fruit of imagination.
At age 21 I moved to the US and settling into a new adult life forced all things art to be placed aside for a decade. It wasn't until 2005 when in the midst of the digital revolution I decided to give my creativity a new life by switching from paper and canvas to camera viewfinder and Photoshop. I bought my first entry-level DSLR, Canon Rebel XT and joined one of the pre-Facebook era photo sharing communities, Fotki. This is where I honed my technical skills within a small closed group, accumulated first followers, and found my first clients, both private and commercial. Zorz Studios re-incarnated, with the word's plural usage giving the nod to future hopes for expanding photography to digital art and old-school painting. Portraits and beauty remained my forte reflecting in fine art and fashion photography. Later, I was invited to the wedding industry which I stormed with my fashion-oriented and action-packed vision. As I continued working with the commercial clients, my private clientele grew not only through word of mouth but also expansions within their families.
Ed, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Photographer?
In the midst of the digital revolution, I decided to give my creativity a new life by switching from paper and canvas to camera viewfinder and Photoshop. I bought my first entry-level DSLR, Canon Rebel XT and joined one of the pre-Facebook era photo sharing communities, Fotki. This is where I honed my technical skills within a small closed group, accumulated first followers, and found my first clients, both private and commercial.
Who is your inspiration in life Ed? How do you keep inspired?
Fine art, old masters, edgy contemporary commercials, challenging locations and setups, seeing clients' awe and disbelief that the can look *that* way!
We all make mistakes Ed; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Photographer; you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
Set more clear expectations and own policies upfront so that those uncomfortable with them simply pass and not get into a forceful business relationship.
Ed, when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Photographer, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
In the basis, there is a fair and simple rule of "first come, first serve". There are few exceptions for commercial vs private clients if publishing/marketing deadlines are involved. Those deadlines are similarly priorities in chronological order.
Please tell us, Ed, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Photographer?
There were many cases of juggling several shoots back-to-back or even overlapping but they would all possibly fade when compared to my upcoming US tour around the entire country on RV this summer. In more than a decade of being a photographer, I made man connections around the country and so many people expressed their desire to either meet in person or being photographed, if only the distance weren't the issue. I decided to take action and go to them in one single sweep. It will last for a month and covers around 12,000 miles. Since I've never driven an RV, nor spent more than 36 hours behind the wheel, learning all about this and most importantly, strategic planning of all the legs, boondocking, camping and sightseeing around the photo shoots will be the greatest endeavour among my already extensive travels around the world for work.
Ed, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Nowadays, many people expect things (e.g., photos) fast and in abundance (because clicking is so simple). Being a painter myself, I often relate to the old masters who would take a prolonged time to create a masterpiece in a single iteration. I also remind them that they have an alternative to go to any cookie-cutter for something quick and cliche if speed is their priority. I take time, and people see the results, realizing that they require an extensive effort.
Ed, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Photographer. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share to everyone. What is it and why?
A good example may be my very first underwater photo session. Instead of taking small steps with learning about the specialized equipment, buying it in portions to build up the rig, and playing with simple ideas and props first, I took a serious plunge. I took out a credit to buy (not even rent) the complete set of camera housing and underwater lighting, built an underwater studio along with 3 walls and a roof, set up a complex lighting linking both underwater flashes and above-the-water studio lights, learned to control everything, and then had a team of bold artists to create a stunning body art masterpiece (a sample attached). Having zero experience of shooting underwater and communicating with the model there, the results were reassuring: one can overcome lots of things and uncertainties if he/she just has the right attitude, confidence, and risk-taking philosophy.
Ed, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
Calendar Girls 2013 was my project of the year—by intensity, time constraints, diversity, creativity, the volume of work, number of models and team members involved, and finally, by my input as an art director and stylist. Everything was shot in four sets within an eight-day span, involving 13 models, and one re-take.
Each month had a theme and a sponsor (a business ranging from car leasing to cable manufacturing, from vodka brand to hair salon, from the supermarket to shipping carrier), one theme per month. Each was fully developed by me, without discussing with the sponsors. It would have been much easier and less stressful had I had an art director and a stylist on the team but I wasn't given one, so I had an opportunity to fully conceptualize and realize my vision, from hand-picking the wardrobe, to crafting the props and details of outfit, to suggesting makeup and hair styling. I also chose to shoot most of the themes in a tight corner room of an otherwise enormous studio, not to use typical glossy and even lighting and envisioned the output entirely in B&W—an unprecedented step for the organizers of the project. This was not my personal project but a commissioned work but to be able to better function and express myself, I had to trick myself into thinking of it as my personal art project.
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Photographer?
Be brave, inquisitive, willing to absorb and learn, humble, zero-whining, accommodating, respectful, non-expecting, open-minded, risky, and friendly.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
Yes. Challenging and unique photo shoots for conceptual development.
Now for the best part Ed! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.
Photographer: Ed "Zorz" Hafizov at Zorz Studios