Elysium: Dreamlike Engagement Shoot at Raymondskill Falls

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I am double-stoked to share this dreamlike engagement shoot at Raymondskill Falls: not only does it feature one of the EngagEd contest winners but also introduces first clients in my new habitat.

I am still holding off the formal reveal of Zorz Studios’ expanded presence after my moving outside of NYC. Devoted followers and blog readers picked hints from my wife’s maternity shoot and the newborn session. A few even pieced it all together to narrow down the new area accurately. Surely there would be no point in hiding the beauty of my new surroundings and the Raymondskill Falls is another step. Once the last arrangement is out of the way by the summer (hopefully), I’ll make it all official!

There is so much to explore and offer here! Waterfalls, swamps, abandoned houses, mysterious forests, fallen trees—yet I’ve been taking small steps. Besides those family sessions outside the house, I only did a winter shoot for my younger daughter about 10 minutes away. That area is fable-like and features a waterfall but it is closed to the public now. Not to take any chances and knowing that there are even grander sights to take advantage of, I studied the map and eyed the Raymondskill Falls as the first point of interest to offer my clients.

Surely enough, a fabulous candidate soon appeared! Our free wedding contest this year happened to bring two winning cinematic themes: Vikings for the first place and Game of Thrones for the second. (I am also flying to Ohio this month to shoot the runner-ups’ basketball concept!) While the former concept has been on the couple’s hold, Asha and Shobin (#shobash2019) jumped on with their vision of wilderness and waterfalls.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Asha Abraham” link=”” color=”#8C76AF” class=”” size=”16″]He has always said “I will follow you till the end of time.” I wanted to use that concept and do a photoshoot of us against the elements/nature. He has always been a big Game of Thrones fan so I was thinking of doing a glamorous shoot in Iceland style scenery somewhere in the US (big mountains, huge waterfalls, etc). We have stood the test of time and distance and we would like our photos to reflect that.[/perfectpullquote]

I do not boast big mountains near me but waterfalls are waiting, albeit not as huge as Niagara or Oneonta Gorge. Time came for the Raymondskill Falls to shine through my lens. I once worked on the Game of Thrones theme for a family. Their advantage was having a Husky to play direwolf and a more versatile wardrobe. However, they did not have a waterfall and northern scenery! Shobin flew in from Chicago and we met by the entrance about a week ago. Surprisingly for the end of March, it snowed heavily in the morning but all melted when we started late in the afternoon. The daylight is fading quickly in the canyon yet I managed to grab a few rays of the setting sun on their faces. At some point I took the liberty of adopting a sweet Indian tradition I saw at a wedding in India when the newlyweds come outside to point into the sky. I learned that in one interpretation, the priest directs their eyes to the pole star, which remains steadfast in the sky though the stars around it move across the sky. So shall their new marriage be steadfast, though others may change around them. In another explanation, they see Arundhati, a star good for the couple’s future family and for having the “good children”.

A few curious facts. Shobin brought a sword which he ordered online. Its size turned out to be smaller than expected… I had to throw a blue pill on it in Photoshop. Having a carte blanche given me by the contest terms, I also experimented with a new technique of creating a cinemagraph (not to be confused with “cinematograph”). Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip. This dreamlike engagement shoot also inspired me to finally try the double exposure technique using Photoshop layers in Screen blending mode. Imagine, I had wrapped up my master set and would close Photoshop when I glimpsed at one simple portrait of the couple. It didn’t even make to the final master set but lo-and-behold—it turned into the cover image with the magic of creative editing!

Premiering Cinemagraph: Engagement Shoot at Raymondskill Falls

When a Prop Came Short of Expectations: Sword Enlarging

Premiering Double Exposure

Ah, so much fun working on this project! From running the contest, to exploring the beauty of Raymondskill Falls to help create a dreamlike engagement shoot, and to experimenting with the new tools. I can’t wait to discover the next mythical location. Contact me if you want to join me on the adventure, be among the first and set the trend!

Click images for full size. Kindly refrain from re-uploading to social media during the first week of feature. Share instead and give credit!

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.


  1. […] began with the test shots with my wife, then our newborn, one of our teen daughters, and finally an engaged couple. This is Poconos, and that’s how my 2-hour commute to NYC comes […]

  2. […] get enough of it yet but really… After seeing how epic the results turned out for my cold Game of Thrones-inspired engagement shoot at the Raymondskill Falls, I owed it to Lara to depict her benign soul there with our little […]

  3. […] My fans and readers will recognize Shannon and Jaysen who won the grand prize of the EngagEd 2019 contest—free wedding day photography. They entered the contest with a viking engagement session theme involving real wolves. We still decided to pursue their engagement shoot in addition to the modern viking wedding. Although we found a wolf sanctuary and looked up the dates, the shoot got postponed until next winter. By the way, the second-place winners with the Game of Thrones engagement session theme had it done by a cold waterfall: […]

  4. […] contest is from the runner-ups, Asha and Shobin, with their Game of Thrones theme (check out their engagement shoot). We’re probably full of the sword-wielding concept for now, so please try others when […]

  5. […] is not my first engagement session in Poconos, however. That first one had a cold Nordic theme in 2019 for my EngagEd contest winners, an Indian couple. Think Game of Thrones. They traveled to […]

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