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Photoshop Tutorial: From Epic Fail to Epic Shot by Zorz Studios (1)
Photoshop Tutorial: From Epic Fail to Epic Shot
March 10, 2020
Tesori: Maternity Photoshoot in Poconos by Zorz Studios (1)
Tesori: Maternity Photoshoot in Poconos
July 3, 2020
Fable: Children Fantasy Art by Zorz Studios (3)

Children fantasy art is part of the developing niche of Zorz Studios photography offered to a variety of clients. Here’s what I’ve modestly done so far but with my drawing background, I should strive for more.

Background

When I tell my photography background story, I start with drawing. That’s in fact, where “Zorz Studios” finds its roots in a 12-year-old boy’s imagination in 1987. First there were doodles in school notebooks, then action comics of Rambo and Stephen King’s story, then artwork not quite children-friendly like monsters and nudes. Fantasy art of the Peruvian artist Boris Vallejo was my inspiration and icon.

Fast forward to 2005 when I got my first DSLR camera to resurrect my hobby in a different medium, giving a plural form to “Zorz Studios”. While I couldn’t find monsters, beauty photography became my staple, building upon those early studies of tension, composition, lighting, and body. Young women turned brides making me a wedding photographer. Newlyweds turned parents making me a children photographer.

A Splash of Art

Love for the old masters and fine art reflected in my occasional transformation of children and youth portraits into digital paintings. Unfortunately, the brush strokes on the samples below cannot be appreciated until you zoom into the high resolution original or look at the wall-sized prints.

The Goal

Fantasy art kept scratching the back of my creative mind. Not too long ago I thought: “Why wouldn’t I go back to my roots and combine photography and fantasy art drawing?” Now, this is no small task. Digital illustration is a standalone profession. People take years learning the trade in specialized schools or online courses. Family, shooting, editing, and running a business full time leaves little room. As the situation with coronavirus and “stay home” directive evolves, I started re-evaluating the idea. The true children fantasy art, as I ultimately envision, is still ahead. The below inspires me:

Start Somewhere

UPDATE 04/15/20: Writing this blog triggered one initiative which may have a profound effect on Zorz Studios as we’ve known it so far. I will hold off the details until it solidifies. I can point out at one related skill application that I failed to mention earlier. There was an attempt to combine my real life drawing skills with a first year photoshoot. I took a regular studio paper background and drew gigantic scenes for 10 hours with a black marker. Below are some of the results, the story was covered here.

What I can do already, and this is my current take on children fantasy art, is starting with “soft fantasy”. It does not have to be about elvian forests or epic creatures yet. Just a bit of magic to place a child in a dream, in a different setup which was not available to me as a photographer in real life. I’ll show you several samples.

A Bookworm

Let me first use my dear clients Lina and Dima. Years ago I did their engagement and wedding. Then Noah was born and I did a newborn session at their home. Later, I was called in for his first birthday party. A standalone session was included to have the toddler’s portraits displayed at the party.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

From the get go, we wanted to create something different from a typical child portrait session. I recommended an approach of children fantasy art as combining the reality with an alternative world. Parents told me of the toddler’s affection for books so I developed several concepts to shoot for. It looked like shooting a movie scene which would later involve CGI. You place a child in front of a green screen and shoot with the end result in mind. Those end results were stock images we sifted through and ordered online. Each had own composition, texture, color, and lighting. I had to match them. The choice of the angle, posing, and lighting would be critical to believability after merging the components.

I set up my portable photo studio in their Manhattan apartment. We worked on each of the established concepts. Next, I took them home to work my Photoshop magic of separating the subject from the green background, re-shaping and filling in the missing parts, then layering on the stock image. The final stage was to scale and blend them seamlessly by manipulating my original photos. Shadows serve as the ultimate touch to add realism.

One more:

For the next one, not only did I work the described children fantasy art routine, but also combined parts from different images in the series, to get the green cream on the boy’s hand and face:

Shoemaker’s Daughter

I’ll borrow my other blog post’s reference to a shoemaker whose wife is allegedly always the worst shod but got the opposite treatment during her maternity sessions around the US. Now, shoemaker’s daughter’s turn. We did an all-day photoshoot for our youngest last year. It was not all about children fantasy art. Just a few scenes. The first required a particularly lengthy matching of the stock image. Here’s before-and-after, I demonstrated the full sequence in that shoot’s blog.

For the second, shadows again play a critical role:

Don’t Greeny, Be Happy

Having a green screen isn’t a must. It just requires an extra effort in post-production because clean separating it from the real background is challenging to a novice. There was a case when I could not mount a green screen on the set.

We were doing a photo shoot for a Bat Mitzvah girl. The event planner had a gorgeous flower circle tree swing in their wearhouse. Ideally, it needed to be transported out to a park. Due to the logistical issues I had to shoot inside that warehouse. On the positive side, we could choose any matching stock background we liked, without having to time the cherry tree blossom.

Dessert

Tell me your fable
A fable that will never end
And now, I dream

ROBERT MILES, “FABLE”

And a few more for the dessert. First, something that made splashes in my social channels for understandable reasons. The results of combining children fantasy art with digital painting mentioned earlier is powerful. This shot was taken during an all-day maternity photoshoot, both indoors and outdoors.

The next one was a recent order from a veterinarian who wanted to show appreciation to her client. She sent me a phone pic that she took of her patient (the horse) and his little owner. I brought them from the muddy backyard up to the mountains. A simple idea but what a lovely transformation! It reminds me of The Little Prince.

Then, another all-day maternity session which was partially done in a pool, underwater. If you think, underwater photography is one of the best venue for children fantasy art. It is challenging to pull off but this is precisely why the results will have even greater impact. Blowing one’s mind, squared. And, I have all the tools and experience required for your child underwater adventure!

The last one was created from a homemade photo that I directed remotely for a long-time client of mine. The background and props were crafted in Photoshop.

Fantasy Art by Zorz Studios (5)

Epilogue

Childhood is the land of miracles and fairy tales. Bring your child there with children fantasy art.

Take a long road paved with creativity, challenge, and complete customization by having a professional photoshoot first. We develop a concept, thoughtfully photograph the subject in a studio or swimming pool with regard to the envisioned background, angle, and lighting, then layer the subject on digital art, seamlessly adding a variety of props, elements, and decor.

Or, take a shorter road by using one of your child’s existing photos. We’ll decide which suits our vision best and fits the technical requirements. The result may not be as customized or perfectly blended but you’ll save time and money.

I am inviting visionaries to chronicle their children in this highly distinct form of art. Need a challenge. I can also create fantasy art for adults, of course. Contact me to discuss your custom  project and pricing. To help each other during the coronavirus pandemic, I am offering a 25% discount through April 20, 2020 on any children fantasy art!

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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  1. […] a whirlpool of new projects took over: announcing the children fantasy art and welcoming its first visionary families, my research on scams targeting photographers, a unique […]

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