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Zorz Advantage: 20 Things That Make Me Different as a Photographer

 

Hello, I'm Ed, photographer of Zorz Studios. Creatives like to say they are unique, so I gave it a hard thought—what exactly is different about me and my studio, other than the photos themselves?

Here's my list. These do not make me the best as I know so many wonderful artists without these pointers. But, if any of the below matter to you, be in the know.

I can do normal but also got the potential for offbeat, adventurous, and daring


With 16 years of experience, there is nothing I can't handle on the land, in the air, or underwater. Things like headshots, real estate, newborn, families, and events are fairly traditional and easy. Seniors, maternity, boudoir, engagement, and weddings can already infuse the wicked and edgy elements to your comfort level. And then come fashion, creative portraits, body art, underwater, and fantasy art, where the unreal factor can shoot out of this world.

Artists show their best so if you see mostly "normal" shots in someone's portfolio, chances are there aren't many better ones. Most of my work is also normal to please most clients but in my published portfolio, I showcase my full potential to help you make an informed decision.

What helps me see things differently? Read below on my fine art, fashion, and digital art backgrounds. I'm also fit, restless, easy-going, daredevil, and sometimes reckless. Anything for the shot—willing to climb walls and trees, get the shoes wet, roll on the ground, and just jump into anything many photographers would dismiss as "yucky".

Problems solved: pleasing both "normal" and badass, adaptive approach, greater potential for the adventurous ones.

Painter and illustrator educated in fine and photographic arts


All photographers are artists, anyone has the right to be called "creative". They create art but not all build on a foundation of art. It's not a prerequisite but if someone can "see" or imagine things and embody them in drawings (not just abstractly), some may call it a gift. It is what I'd been mastering for over a decade before switching to photography.


As a kid, I drew comics, fantasy, portraits, and learned motion and composition. Later, I was drawn into Rococo, Baroque, and Renaissance paintings. Rembrandt, with his mastery of dramatic light, was among my most influential teachers. Such foundation could not have gone unused in my later photography.

Problems solved: cliché images, lack of stirring vision, uninquisitive mindset.

Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)


As the leading certifying agency for imaging professionals, the Professional Photographic Certification program is recognized throughout the industry. When you see a photographer displaying CPP seal, you can be sure that he or she is among the less than 3% of all imaging professionals who have successfully completed the stringent commission's requirements. Those who have earned the certification have passed a comprehensive written exam measuring their technical expertise, and have successfully submitted their work to a panel of judges for review and approval.

My actual CPP certificate isn't as dope* as you see here, it's plain vanilla so I layered stuff.

*Speaking of dope, a curious fact: I've never tried a single drug, not even a puff... Don't smoke, either.

Problems solved: incomplete knowledge of trade tools, technical incompetency, consistently subpar image quality.

Awards and recognition


• Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner
• Rangefinder magazine Grand Prize winner in Seeing the Light contest
• Winner of Adobe/PDN international contest
• Member of the prestigious Grace Ormonde Wedding Style 5-Star Platinum List
• "Most Dramatic Photos" trophy by The Bash (formerly GigMasters), among 1,000s of photographers
• Listed in the Top 10 New York Wedding Photographers
• Listed in the Top 50 US Wedding Photographers

Problems solved: none really, but it may help knowing that you'd be taken care by an acclaimed creator.

Fashion industry background


With that fine art foundation, fashion industry seemed like the best entry point into photography for me. Having quickly earned trust by NY couture designers to present their new collections, I also covered Mercedes Benz Fashion Week shows, worked with modeling agencies, and helped build portfolios for the aspiring models. I was a panel judge for Nationals Incorporated Pageant.

Borrowing the beauty secrets and techniques from the fashion industry, what I mastered and practice there helps me implement the best posing, lighting, and retouching skills. An elaborate, fashion-driven, dramatic, and sometimes unexpected approach may turn an average person into a magazine-worthy subject if this is your dream.

Problems solved: unflattering angles, mundane poses, uninspiring feel.

Features and publications


Featured online at Vogue, Cosmopolitan, PopSugar, Elle, Glamour, Maxim, Huffington Post, Maharani Weddings, The Knot, Wedding Channel, Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, Wed Plan, WeddingWire, etc.

Appearing in print magazines: Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Rangefinder, Creations, SALYSÉ, Juxtopoz, Illusion, OXXO, Weddings Illustrated, Bridal Guide, After Capture, Resource Magazine, Zdorovie, etc.

Problems solved: eh, if you need a bit of ego boost, you can say you worked with a "photographer from Vogue", lol!

Photoshop retouching expert instructing other professionals


The said fashion industry boot camp taught me retouching the hard way. The stakes were sky high with the editors, couturiers, and picky models expecting nothing short of a billboard perfection. I'm pleased to offer such level to my most discerning clients.

Perhaps telling is that I taught magazine-cover retouching class to other photographers during Professional Photographers of America (PPA) workshops.

Problems solved: can you make me look younger? Skinnier? Seriously, though, you must have professional portraits that you would totally love if not for those blemishes or a pesky flap that a photographer wouldn't address...

Teaching photography to kids, teens, moms, and community


Speaking of teaching, for five years I had an honor of being one of Josephine Herrick Project's volunteer instructors. JHP has implemented a broad range of photography programs, providing training, direction and equipment to underserved communities throughout New York.

During those semester-long photography programs, I got to work at NYC public schools including LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts, pre-teens with cognitive and emotional disabilities, teens on autism spectrum, and even with legally blind kids. The latter were among the most enthusiastic photography students! Regretfully, I had to resign from the position after moving away from NYC.

This unique teaching experience served as a platform for my photography school founded in 2020, Zorzkool. Its 5-part course was offered to creative moms and then neighbors of my community.

Problems solved: incompetency and lack of social skills. "If educational institutions trust him with students, he probably knows what he's doing."

Rock-solid business ethics honed by a long corporate world experience


Beauty and frustration.. Photography became highly approachable and inclusive. Anyone can become a photographer and crowds venture into its exciting promises. You may find true talents and if they also posses innate business traits, you struck gold! Unfortunately, I've heard stories of gifted artists with poor business ethics. They don't get back to you until you press them, lose notes or files, forget details, ask you to repeat/resend, come late for meetings blaming traffic and anyone else, fall short on promises, don't stand by you, or even disappear... They say, "artistic mess" but what if you could have the best of both worlds, artistic, and boringly reliable?

Prior to full-time photography, I studied business administration while working the night shifts pumping fuel at a Manhattan gas station for 3.5 years (and mopping a floor at a deli before that). No glam. Then I had a fortune to hone business ethics while building up my career from an administrative assistant to the clinical research coordinator of global monitoring operations at a big pharma company for 11 years. Having 5 subordinates and supporting over 100 CRAs gives you solid business skills with little room for mistakes and excuses! I now bring you those ethics, starting with the basics like not being late and almost instant replies.

Problems solved: reliability, accountability, responsibility, promptness, responsiveness, record-keeping, integrity, respect.

Next-level business tools for client relationship


The previous topic leads me to this question: What is an office rat without big-gun business tools? Forget spreadsheets, contact lists, folders, notes, and stickies scattered all over the devices, websites, and desk. I use the power of an all-in-one Client Relationship Management system known in the grown-up business circles as CRM.

Everything about you, our communication, online meetings, current and past projects, billing, marketing, social interactions, and lots more is tightly integrated in one system. Its components talk to each other so all the info is neatly organized and at my finger tips whenever and wherever needed. Next, I religiously automate as many tasks and workflow steps as possible (my programming background helps in more advanced cases, too). This keeps tabs on every project stage and relocates the routine time to more unique and creative duties.

Problems solved: messy records, lost information, broken data relationship, manual (read: prone to mistakes and omissions) workflows, inconsistent practices, unnecessary reminders and requests to resend anything, etc.

With the shoot span from Alaska to India, DC feels local to NYC


Based out of NYC, I'm constantly commuting between the city and Pocono woods (PA) where my family lives. When I'm asked if I can work in the Hamptons, South Jersey, Connecticut, or Westchester, I chuckle and say "Oh, that's local!" because I shot my clients from Alaska (twice) to India (four trips) and in between, in 35 US states and 17 countries.

My question to you is: "Where do you need me to be?" Take a look at these mapped jobs I did just last year, zoomed into a "local" area of 200-mile radius from NYC. For these, I logged 19,844 miles driving. With the remote US and international trips it came to 35,766 miles which is 1.4 times around the world.

Problems solved: will he be willing to come so far to our area?

Reassuring reviews, nurtured reputation


Reputation is the air my business breaths. I sweat to earn it, then nurture and treasure it. To avoid any misunderstanding and assumptions in the "before" stage, I push for transparency. The website has a thorough FAQ section to address lots of grey areas. I clearly outline everything included in the packages, and review my policies in the agreement. The "during" stage is mentioned of this page, and you can also get a good feel from my blogs that I write. In the essential "after" stage I stand by my word and commit to your satisfaction. If there are any shortcomings (I can't always avoid them), I'll address them in any possible way to preserve the reputation.

It shouldn't then surprise you to read the averaged 4.9 and 5-star reviews of Zorz Studios across all sites including Google, Facebook, Yelp, WeddingWire, and quite more. You can also see the compiled reviews here, along with photos and links to corresponding stories.

Problems solved: fear of making a wrong choice, hearing the first-hand experience from earlier clients, being protected by a reputation.

"Wow, you must have a good camera!" Equipment that matters.


There is a myth in the industry of "latest and greatest". Some photographers brag about regularly buying the newest camera models or keeping up with the trends, like the latest wave of switching from DSLRs to mirrorless cameras. Consumers seem to also buy into thinking that this will produce cooler images. It's in the artist's head, not the camera. I shocked my peers and clients pointing out at some of the best photos in my portfolio that they praise and telling them those were taken with an 8-year-old camera—my main one at a time (the backup camera was 12 years old). "You're still using it?" Yes, and my head is even older. I'd rather spend money on what matters—a diverse equipment.

And this is what also makes me different. A decade ago I expanded the typical photography scope and invested into underwater tools, which racked up to over $5K. I upgraded it just recently. Similarly, I expanded my horizons with the aerial photography and videography using drones. As long as my equipment expresses my artistic essence and doesn't fail, I don't care about its age.

Problems solved: however complex your project is, whenever it needs to be shot, I'll have the tools and resources.

For what it's worth, a European flair


I contemplated on including this as a distinguishing point... The fact is, I am from Eastern Europe. Was born and raised there, emigrating at age 21. Our history and culture are different, whether you see it as advantageous or not. Kids there are raised with a greater focus on the cultural virtues than the social ones as it is in the US. I'm not the one to state it's better, I'm saying this helped me develop artistically early on.

Another fact in this section—I repeatedly hear from my US clients that they preferred to hire a European artist. Won't quote their reasons here, I may have already raised a few eyebrows...

Problems solved (for some): shifting away from the Americanized look at emotions, beauty, love, and lifestyle.

A rewards program like nothing else in the industry (coming summer 2022)


Client appreciation and rewarding your regular customers is a must. Loyalty programs are abundant for earning points to redeem for valuable products and services. I have not heard of a robust one in the photography business, however. I'm sure there are studios that reward their clients but based on my research, it is limited to a basic approach of counting booking dollars and maybe a referral program.

My mind was fixated on more than basics, and the numerous third-party services fell short of my custom requirements. I've spent several years conceiving what could be the most elaborate and encompassing rewards program in photography. Its backbone lies in the aforementioned 360-degree CRM system. Two years went into collecting data and connecting the dots, then months of Deluge and PHP coding, and then the web design. I can't spill the beans until the program launches but imagine over 20 activities to earn the points! With so many ways, my most loyal clients will instantly score free sessions while others will be well on their way to claim generous studio credits!

Problems solved: feeling appreciated beyond words and being tangibly rewarded for support and continued business.

Committing to giving back


I want to leave a trace in this world, and one way is through photography which may turn into a work of art, family heirloom, or a historical record. But, a photographer can do more.

For years, I volunteered for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS), a national group of elite photographers healing trauma of parents who lost their children. I participated in Operation Smile, donating the entire proceeds from the Family Portraiture Month sessions to support plastic surgeries for children. The earlier mentioned teaching photography to special needs population through JHP was volunteering. As a client appreciation event, I regularly offer free photo sessions and printed portraits to my clients' mothers on Mother's Day. Finally, I donate 5% of our wedding bookings to three of my favorite charities as part of the Feel Bigger in Heart program.

To give back to my own community in Poconos, I cover the local events, offer free Halloween portraits, create social documentaries like 2020 Lockdown in Poconos, and run a free photography club.

Problems solved: knowing that you'll work with someone who cares and shares.

 

Thank you for your time. Here are a few links, and my girls:

 

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