Purity: Creative Youth Portraits in Poconos

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I intended to make my first youth portraits in Poconos studio quietly beautiful but the creative bug still bit me and I mastered two Renaissance oil paintings in a captivating way I’ve never done before.

Thoughtful Daughters

Meet sisters Bailey and Bridget. They are my neighbors of Wild Acres Lakes community in Dingmans Ferry, PA.

Bailey reached out shortly prior to my Mother’s Day annual Mama’s Love event, offering free sessions and printed portraits for clients and friends. I had it in my Poconos studio this year and saw over 70 people in one day. She wanted to do something different, however. Something I don’t hear often so I had to clarify it several times—they wanted to give mom a professional portrait of two of them as a Mother’s Day gift! And because they weren’t my clients or friends yet, it was a paid job, just discounted as for my neighbors. So, a thought of two young ladies, one still in high school, hiring a professional photographer to create something that their mom would cherish, was just heartwarming to me.

To reward their thoughtfulness, I offered to extend for free the brief session which would only capture them together and also work on their individual youth portraits. Little did I know what they would turn into.

First Youth Portraits in Poconos Studio!

As I wrote earlier, I was very slow in offering the Poconos studio space to the public since three years ago that we moved there. I had one quick professional headshot session, one commercial shoot (so want to publish it!), and one family. That’s it! So, the girls honored me with the first youth portraits in Poconos studio!

The sisters came wearing white t-shirts (seemed oversized on purpose) and we started in the studio. I’m known for (sometimes overly) dramatic portraits for both youth and adults. To be safe in a new market, my intent for these two was to create something quiet and gentle. First, I used an even studio light to make sure mom will love it.

Kindly refrain from re-uploading images to social media during the first week of the exclusive feature. Share instead and give credit to @ZorzStudios. Thank you for your help!

Studio Lighting Difference

Before going outside, thought that a few more dramatic shots won’t hurt. Here’s the difference:

Then I switched to solo shots. There was something pure in the girls’ individual portraits in that setup promptly named Rembrandt lighting. Or maybe it was plain t-shirts and minimal (or no?) makeup… I continued with that dramatic light, nailing some edgy looks.

Renaissance Paintings

It is only in post-production later that I realized I was looking at a solid old masters oil painting material! Not something many young people might appreciate unless they are drawn to art, but I decided to play with it. Those who don’t know me—I drew since age 12 so it’s always been my drive. First, I thought of taking my digital art path by simply converting them into digital Renaissance paintings (optionally adding a background), as I did before (click to open and zoom in):

I was craving for more. Ventured into something I’ve never done: morphing an actual oil painting with my photography. Don’t know why it never occurred to me but pleased to launch this technique in my expanded market!

It took hours to find the fitting paintings. Things would have been easier if I shot around a given painting, looking at the painter’s exact lighting and posing to replicate them in the studio. Alas, it was all an afterthought. I finally picked Portrait of a Young Girl (1884) by Ludwig Knaus and At the Foot of the Cliff (1886) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. As you’ll see, the latter required transforming a child’s body proportions, especially arms, into adult’s. I spent an entire day working on both portraits, blending the poses, size, color, texture, lighting, and background. I then painted light and shadows over the resulting morphed images and finally added the brush strokes and canvas texture for a perfect blend. It’s a fine work indeed, way too much to explain… just enjoy!

Here are the original paintings:

Curiously, the next day I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my family. Here’s Veya getting her share of fine art at age 2.5:

Back to Natural

Back to my youth portraits in Poconos session. I invited the girls to step out and shoot around my property, facing the lake. The only other time I did it was for our youngest daughter’s first year photoshoot, so our piece of tranquil land welcomed the first steps of clients. The giggling never stopped—the sisters are a bundle of joy! I got that and then asked for a few quiet portraits. In one, I wanted to depict an older sister “protecting” the younger.

Mother’s Day Revisit

This photoshoot took place days before the Mother’s Day. Now that they became my clients, I pointed out that they can have their free session and printed portrait with their mom if they could come on May 9th. They happily agreed, and I got to meet fabulous Amy. A happy and blessed mother.

So there you have it: I wanted to introduce my youth portraits in Poconos as natural, lively, and easy-going. While most of them were just that (it did not include many others in the blog), I also premiered a totally new and unexpected product worthy of some serious creative agenda. They are going to my Fantasy Art collection just because they are as imaginative and striking to me.

If you are interested in youth portraits in Poconos, whether fun or edgy, simple or elaborate, I can help.

Side Note

Not to do a disservice to myself with this old-fashioned stuff, though… Check back in a few weeks for another sick photo session with an engaged couple also shot in Poconos. Think Mad Max and the post-apocaliptic love. I’m versatile.

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. […] Shooting engagement sessions and weddings in the cultural centers is always an exquisite treat for me. You may know I loved to draw and paint, and take a load of inspiration and techniques from the fine art, like these portraits created past summer in my home studio. […]

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