TWiP Family 038: Zalmy Berkowitz

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This week I’m sharing my interview with Zalmy Berkowitz. Zalmy documents the messy reality of life with five children.

profile pic by the brothers wright“If you really want to take good pictures of family, you’ve got to really love family and be into families.”

On his website Zalmy writes: I love my life. yeah it’s hard as heck, I’m exhausted, and sometimes feel as if I’m a referee surviving on a steady diet of coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches. my nerves are frazzled, my house is a mess. but it’s my mess. it’s a mess of choice. it’s a magical mess. filled with the love and shouts and cries. laughter and life. I want to remember this life. not tomorrow, not yesterday. I want to remember the now. I don’t need nor want some idealized version of myself or my family. the dirty faces, torn pants, mismatched socks. this is my life and I love it.

At first Zalmy was looking for the perfect camera to take stock photos of dreidels to use in graphic design. For months, he researched to find which camera was the best camera. (We talk about how everyone does this but no one needs to.) He never got around to the dreidel photos. He had three kids around and found them easier and more interesting subjects to photograph. On a whim, he bought a Hasselblad, found out that it didn’t take 35mm film, got the right film and fell in love with using old cameras and film. Zalmy used film for years and we talk about what he loves about film cameras, film itself and the process of making photographs on film. And, we also discuss why Zalmy is giving digital another try. (I’ll give you a hint: $$$)

When Zalmy first started making photos, he was drawn to the pretty photos he saw from people like Jon Canlas and Jose Villa. He used the lenses they used on the cameras they used. As time went by, he began to be more interested in documentary photography and looked to photographers who used wide lenses, stopped down, to tell their story. The photos relied less on visual tricks, like shallow depth of field, and the viewer was drawn into the story of the photo with less awareness of the photo itself. We talk about the challenges and rewards of using a wide lens.

More from Zalmy: Website, Instagram and Facebook.

Do you have a family photography question, someone you’d love to hear from on this family photography podcast or a suggestion for the a topic we could cover on TWiP Family? Email me: jenny@twip.pro

In the episode, I talked about my 365 Project. Check out photographs from your fellow TWiP Family listeners who were crazy enough to start a 365 project with me in the TWiP Family 365 Project 2016 Flickr group. It’s not to late to join us. We’re having an amazing time together.

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