Womansion: Stylish Family Shoot at Vanderbilt Museum

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You are bound to have a fun and beautiful session with this stylish woman and a visionary, this time for her family shoot at Vanderbilt Museum.

Let me start with a side note. It’s been almost four months since the last photoshoot blog in November… It is that time of the year. First, I want to catch up with all remaining retouching and designing jobs for the year. Pre-holiday slowdown at work also prompts some clients to finally submit their delayed orders, further increasing my workload. Blogging takes much time and being a bonus, gets deprioritized. The same holidays then relax me for a little while.

I counted on quiet January to resume blogging but an unprecedented project hit me after years of hesitation. Purely of the backend nature, it brings a colossal business platform switch, replaces 8-10 services I’ve been using, saves me thousands of dollars yearly, and will revolutionize my client relationship. Yes, if you are Zorz Studios’ client, good things are coming this year! (If you aren’t but consider, sign up to catch the announcements.) For the second month I’ve been staying past midnight learning, migrating, setting up, coding, testing, designing, and all. Still a few more months for completion. Exciting stuff, to say the least.

Back to the art, though. Re-introducing Crystal Bell, ladies and gentlemen—one of my favorite clients who is not just loyal but also an artistic delight to work with. I promised her a blog so let me start with her.

My first family session with Crystal was in 2016 in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park where we set up a teepee and smoke bombs for their then-two children. The following year I did her whimsical “housewife” themed maternity session at their place.

Both times she treated me to a carefully-styled wardrobe and exciting setups. She managed to outdo herself for this family shoot at Vanderbilt Museum.

The venue itself is grand. This former summer home of William Vanderbilt II was donated to the county with provision that the mansion and grounds be used for a museum for his marine, natural history, and ethnographic collections. Interestingly, this Vanderbilt’s enclave started with a 24-room Spanish Revival mansion by the same architecture firm involved in constructing New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

I’m guessing the Spanish Revival ambiance is what drew in Crystal with her cultural background years ago—Vanderbilt Museum was the site of their wedding. I did not know them back then so it was my first visit to the spectacular 43-acre estate. At the end of the shoot, her husband Matt insisted we snap at least a few shots by the wooden gates where they did some of their wedding portraits.

Shooting inside Vanderbilt Museum is prohibited. Outdoor personal photography is allowed but professional is treated differently, as expected. I’ve added that info on my photo permit page.

I could not pass on the delicate ironwork so organically complimenting the stucco facades. It is by Samuel Yellin, an immigrant from then-Russian Empire and self-described blacksmith, who elevated the craft of hand-forged iron to the realm of fine art. He relied on the anvil and hammer—no modern equipment—remaining true to the process and integrity of the material. This is where our family shoot at Vanderbilt Museum started at sunset.

Crystal graced a gown from Terani Couture and Matt wore Hugo Boss. Their daughter Jordan, former child model, almost stole the show. As noted in my earlier blogs of them, she knows to work the camera. I should say the same about her stylish mom but the boys were a major distraction for Crystal, preventing her from focusing and relaxing. Matt tried to help. The best tactics here was the ancient “divide and conquer”, hence not too many shots with all five… The youngest one came with his own script so he was mostly missing from the scene.

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

Jordan’s boutique dress from Joyfolie and the exquisite backdrop begged for a fine art touch to some portraits. I re-mastered two portraits into digital paintings, adding a Renaissance frame to one of them:

Whether it’s a family shoot at Vanderbilt Museum, photo studio, or a beach, toddlers minding their own business is a norm. It’s always fun to keep shooting moments that are not “picture perfect” per se but so full of life and authenticity! Those facial expressions! Clients rarely choose them for retouching or album printing. I’m sure the parents would still cherish them as much, just differently. Let me share some from the shoot.

Thank you for another divine adventure, Crystal!

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 Comment

  1. […] decided to start at the Vanderbilt Museum where I had a pleasure to shoot another stylish family and a wedding couple. Beginning “a day in the life” with the demanding formal portraits […]

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