Zara Visuals portrait of a woman with heavy gelled lighting
This photo was loosely inspired by the lighting in the movie Hereditary. They used orange- and teal-colored lights and gels very methodically in that movie and in between lighting setups on this shoot I decided to put those together.

Zara Israel is an artist who utilizes a variety of media including photography, short films, digital art, graphic design and painting. She’s always had an interest in photography and when she lost her day job in 2019, Zara jumped into photography full time and has been building her studio ever since. Zara is still finding her style and loves to experiment with new techniques and work with new teams.  

Zara uses her work to uplift black men and women by celebrating their natural beauty.

Along with portraiture, food photography is also a passion of hers. As she notes: “You can eat the set when you’re done!” Bold colors and strong graphic elements make up her images. Zara describes her work as wholesome, colorful, and cultured.

Zara Visuals portrait of a model holding a large frame with flowers attached
This image was the collective effort of a pretty large and talented team. The stylist came up with the outfit, she wanted a more “avant-garde” look. The set designer built the floral frame and my main contribution on set was the backdrop color and the picture—I just thought it looked cool.

Color Theory

When working with bold and bright colors, it’s important to take into account how hues and color values interconnect with a subject’s skin tone, and adjust accordingly. 

In the future I plan to use color theory more intentionally with my photos to evoke more feeling with my work.

Concept and mood boards are put together before shoots. And Zara always briefs her models on her signature “pro-modeling tips”, working off their natural mannerisms in order to frame them in a way that is both flattering and artistic.

Take a look at Zara’s body of work and you’ll notice a theme—props make up a large part of her imagery. 

I love props! I majored in film and we had to work a lot with setting the scene to make the environment communicate what we wanted it to. I learned at that time that props and lighting were two things you could use to instantly make your work look more intentional, so now I utilize my prop collection wherever I can! 

Zara Visuals photo of a model making a sand angel on the beach
I’d been thinking of this idea for a while. I love doing shoots with interesting or unexpected elements, but it wasn’t strictly planned out. We just came up with an outfit, went to the beach and I started giving her this character to embody. I thought a sand angel would be a cool spin-off of a snow angel.

Read the No-List

When you start out in business you feel as if you have to say yes to every job that comes your way. But Zara explains that, “as I grew and increased the number of clients I dealt with; I began sensing patterns of which jobs I wasn’t motivated to do to the best of my ability. I also had to take a hard look at my morals and values and see if I was demonstrating those with the work I produced, and if the answer was no, chances are it ended up on my No-List.”

We think Zara’s No-List is a great way to help prospective clients self-qualify. It saves everyone time and makes sure the leads she gets are qualified. 

Zara Visuals photo of a male holding a frame
This photo wasn’t planned at all. The model travels back and forth between Baltimore and New York a lot, so when I saw he was in town, I asked if he wanted to come by my studio. I had that old frame laying around from the thrift store and the plain shirt in my closet, so I had him put that on and pose with the frame until I got some shots that I liked.


Photography, sound design, and film work are where I have the most expertise and experience, so those are generally what I advertise. Another thing I will be offering very soon is an affordable and well-equipped studio space for local creatives. SONNE Studios is under construction now in downtown Baltimore. 

The future is looking bright for Zara Israel. 

Zara Visuals portrait of a woman with her hair covering her eyes
The picture was loosely inspired by the phrase “see no evil”.

Zara Israel

Zara Israel is a Baltimore-based photographer and artist with eight years of experience in fashion, beauty, product, and food photography for brands like Universal, Interscope Records, and Dreamville. Zara is also the founder of SONNE Studios, an affordable creative studio in Baltimore for local photographers and artists. Zara’s work has been featured in several publications, including ABC, The Fader, and Complex Magazine. She’s versed not only in photography, but digital video production and sound design as well. Some of her favorite artists are Felicity Ingram, Wes Anderson, Micaiah Carter, and Hannah Hiller.

Check out Zara’s work on Instagram/zaravisuals and on her website