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GOT BD? Game of Thrones Inspired Birthday Photoshoot

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This Game of Thrones inspired birthday photoshoot could have been epic and I’ve learned my lesson… again.

Meet Jenn of Cake Pops by Jen who contacted me after following on Facebook for a while to do a quick Game of Thrones inspired birthday photoshoot for her husband’s 30th. Her original inquiry was for a “mini-session” which are inexpensive and widely offered by various professional studios, including super quick walk-ins like JCPenney Portraits. I see their value and proposition: everything is preset in a studio or outdoors, standard lighting does not require moving around or extensive adjustments, and people go through a series of basic poses. Since the entire process takes little time, it is cost-efficient, inexpensive, and works great for high-volume approach. In fact, I borrow from this principle in our annual boudoir marathon with the latest being a sold-out success despite its bold and risque nature this year.

Of course I can do it, and can make some quick portraits even in 15-30 minutes. I do not advocate this, however. I used to offer 1-hour shoots until an underachievement with one maternity client years ago who, to my surprise, was a photographer presumably knowing what it takes for a thoroughly developed concept. What she expected in just one hour was not something I showcase in my portfolio, where many of the works took half-day and even full-day efforts. With that maternity client, I could barely scratch the surface of a dramatic portraiture while being rushed to try several setups and ideas.

Jenn wasn’t like that maternity client but pretty realistic when asking for a min-session. For one, this Game of Thrones inspired birthday photoshoot would not only involve her but also a teen daughter (turned out to be a perfect model), her husband (so-so patience… 🙂 ) and toughest of all, a Siberian Husky, who had his own plans for the day. I am sure a few basic group portraits in the cool attire would be enough for them and wouldn’t take more than an hour but it was me. I wanted to at least try different backdrops and locations, let alone lighting setups. Two hours was the minimum I’d agree to work with, given the backdrop-rich Skylands Manor where we chose to shoot in, and as I suspected, they covered just the basics.

What I mean is that these portraits are simple, almost normal. Oh, they are surely cool and lots of magazines seek and print them but to me, they lack depth and meaning. I know that many people, especially their friends and family, will be sincerely enjoying and hyped about them. As I looked at them during the post-processing, however, I kept thinking: “Wooo, I should have done this here…” or “Argh, why didn’t I…?” Don’t get me wrong: I did many successful 2-hour family photo sessions but they were not a type of Game of Thrones inspired birthday photoshoot! The potential here was deeper and I realize now that I should have either pushed for a longer session, or just stayed in one location/setup and dug a few posing concepts for two hours. The caveat of the latter is risking to bore my models and possibly presenting them with just 1-2 truly developed final portraits which would make a viewer stare and slowly dicept them, wondering how it was taken and what complex feelings it evokes.

But that’s picky me speaky… Imagine that I didn’t open up about my internal thought conflict… For the clients, these portraits are pretty unique and cool, and are certainly worth of hiring a professional photographer for such an epic occasion like Game of Thrones inspired birthday photoshoot!! Let’s celebrate their creativity. Wishing Jennifer and George lots of adventures and love in their book of life!

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Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov is a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering arousing and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, winner of Adobe contests, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List, he is eager to step out of his and willing clients' comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.

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