Icebreaker: NYC Underwater Photography Year Round

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Icebreaker: NYC Underwater Photography Year Round by Zorz Studios

I’ve been doing NYC underwater photography for 13 years but this maternity session sets my ground for something brand new in this seasonal region—a year round experience and access to uniqueness!

Until Now, Either Seasonal or Resourceful

For years, I’ve been falling behind my Florida and Caribbean underwater peers who could offer unique underwater photography throughout the year. Unlike for them, NYC underwater photography is a seasonal experience with the pools mostly open in May-September only. For many creative portrait clients, it’s a workable situation. People may find me in winter and then prepare to shoot their unique underwater portraits late spring, or bring me to a warm place like Mexico or Dominican Republic with a bonus of underwater caves:

Some Can’t Delay

There are those who can’t wait or travel. For the former, it’s obviously the maternity photography clients. There were so many in the past with their due date falling in winter, and I had to turn them down!.. For one past January client dreaming of underwater maternity, we considered taking my digital art route to imitate her being underwater, but how do you still float in a studio with a green screen? We did the Antelope Canyon instead, all while getting the rest of her cool shots indoors:

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I remember another couple who couldn’t wait, an African-American family of many shoots with me. They would have their wedding in May 2014 and were dying to have an underwater engagement session, but it was September already! I found a pool that was willing to stay open until October for us. The guys drove from Washington, DC. It was cold, but I got them this:

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NYC Underwater Photography Year Round

And now Kei comes with her due date in late April. I recommend doing maternity sessions 2-3 months before the due date, which fell on February-March for her. Argh, another unfortunate turndown, I thought, BUT miraculously, she found a place to work in! And the big news—I talked to the pool owners, and arranged to give you guys the coveted NYC underwater photography year round!

Although the pool isn’t optimally deep, it is heated, indoors, has a unique lighting, as you’ll see, as well as all the convenient amenities. No more bummers for your cold-weather creative visions and dreams of unreal portraits! My recently upgraded underwater photography equipment comes timely, too. The casing and lens add-ons, along with the upgraded camera and underwater lights, make it a whopping $6K beast, a dream machine!

Let’s Jump In!

Kei and her husband Kenneth love being in the water. They had their wedding on the beach. Our adventurous mom-to-be creates ecommerce websites, and Kenneth is an independent contractor for home improvements. Both are Filipino and Kei has a Japanese half. How cool is that in a few days, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month kicks in, so here’s my accidental contribution!

There were three dresses that Kei wanted to use. The red one was her favorite, so we started with it for a warm-up. I loved the tunnel effect of the second image. My wife called it “The Moon”.

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Digital Mastery Advantage

Let me pause for a moment to show you how that tunnel vision shot came around. The original wasn’t as clean, nor dramatic. I added the red fabric into the pool, and as it’s often the case, you’re up to your luck. Almost like a kaleidoscope, the patterns and “drawing” are somewhat unpredictable. You have three options: 1) shoot away like crazy and later pick your best image among the dozens, 2) stubbornly have your client redo the pose waiting for the right flow, or 3) fill in the gaps in Photoshop in post-production. I’m an avid “shoot less but right” advocate, and we had a shorter session so couldn’t experiment for too long.

I went with my advanced retouching approach—cloned the fabric from several shots in the series. You may also appreciate how the mastery of digital tools benefit an underwater photographer: the actual images are rarely as clear and vivid when captured by the camera, even a top-notch like mine. It’s the water and light angles.

The next dress was blue, and I threw in a blue fabric. My newly discovered location helps me create a unique square lighting pattern I haven’t had before. With a stretch of imagination, you might think of an opening in the ice sheet used by Polar Bear clubs (I used to experiment with it), hence the blog title.

Dad’s Turn!

I love when underwater maternity clients bring their partners. Kei’s husband was ready and eager to join for a loving dad-to-be image.

What A Crazy Thought…

Working on the following image, I made a curious observation. If I were a Renaissance painter, I’d possibly want to name this piece “The Annunciation” or something. Look closely… see what I mean?

And lastly, Kei changed into a white maternity gown. We were almost out of time so just tried a few kissing poses with the temperatures in the 30s outdoors and a soft gentle touch between the loving parents-to-be in this offbeat NYC underwater photography.

Behind the Scenes

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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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