composition clinic

☯ intense ☂ intimate ✌︎ practical ☀︎ useful ✈︎

☛ extraspecialdoubleamazingtremendouslyspectacular ◉

on Composition

a photography workshop
with Zalmy Berkowitz




I am working on workshops in: Toronto, Nashville, San Antonio, Jackson Hole, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay.. Hit me up if your interested in attending and/or making those (or others) happen!


Woah, hold on there cowboy, what even is this thing?

On Composition is an intense and intimate one day photography workshop covering everything related to composition. It's a no-fluff, information overflow of all I've learned and know (and made up) about composition.



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 What we will cover

  • Marketing
  • Finding your voice
  • Film developing
  • Believing in yourself
  • Composition
  • Finding the perfect client
  • The history and political significance of retrofocus lenses
  • SEO and blogging
  • Shooting in manual
  • Posing
  • How to take the perfect selfie
  • Printing and framing
  • Photography and social justice
  • How to create ridiculous websites
  • Fine Art and you

why composition?

I've been pretty obsessed with composition for some time now (yes, I realize how ambiguous that is), and I feel like it's an oft-ignored aspect of photography, especially in the wacky world of workshops. I mean we talk about the rule of thirds and what not (golden rule, what up?!), but the why and what of it all, why we need composition and what it even is, we are left to figure out on our own.

Composition is not just where to put our subjects so all looks good. Composition is to images what grammar is to words. Without it, our stories can be incoherent, aimless, and confusing. It’s what takes a plot and turns it into a story, maybe even poetry. In this workshop you will learn to use all the elements of photography (focal length, aperture, shutter speed, etc.) and the world out there (the “things” that come together to make a photo) to tell remarkable narratives (actually that's a bid of a stretch. If you have a remarkable narrative, then this workshop will help you express that via the photos you take).


Who even is he?


the supers. and a unicorn, a bear, and, well, me

Holy shishkabob!

I haven't even introduced myself.

My name is Zalmy Berkowitz and I'm a photographer specializing in documenting weddings and families (yeah yeah, basically a wedding photographer). I currently live in Southern California with my wife and six little monster-angels whom we homeschool (and photograph. A lot).

I'm not a big name in the industry, and kind of like it that way (I wonder if I'd say the same if I was actually a "big name" :) ). I've spoken/taught in conferences in Vancouver and New Zealand and have recently been named one of Rangefinders 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography of 2017.

You could see my work here

And we are working on starting a school up in Berkeley, which we are pretty darn excited about.


this is not a climbing workshop.

green shoes always acceptable


who is this shindig for anyways?


It's for documentarians! All ye who seek to document life through the magic medium (it truly is magical) of photography come hither! Gather round the electric campfire of distilled pixel juice and find the fountain of compositional wisdom.

Whether you photograph your own life or others; paid or not; weddings or funerals; war or peace; if you want to improve your storytelling through the calculated use of your camera and the world out there, this workshop is for you. Unless of course you know all this stuff like really well, then maybe it's not.

It's not particularly geared towards a certain level of photographer. I really feel that almost all will gain (though from past experience those with the most experience gained the most). We will be throwing around a lot of camera and industry terms so a basic understanding of how a camera works will really help (if you don't have that, I suggest reading Understanding Exposure before the workshop :) ).



compositions got you down? 


Alright! Got it. What will it look like?


you probably won't cry

I mean it's okay if you do, but this here workshop isn't of the fuzzy sort. No "you can do it!"s or "the sky is the limit!"s (though those may be true. No Yolo or #liveauthentic here. Just hours and hours of liquid information poured down your... okay I have no clue how to end this metaphor).



I'm a big fan of speaking to and with, rather than speaking at.

Each workshop will be limited to 16 people to ensure that we can really get to know one another (to an extent) and teach a more interactive workshop. There's a saying in the Talmud that "I learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but most from my students". This workshop is setup to allow active participation and discussion instead of the more traditional lecture-in-front-of-room.

It also allows me to do more workshops in more
locations, so yay!


We will start early and fast, and keep going strong until the final school bell rings.

The workshop will be packed with ideas, big and small, both philosophical and practical.

While I tend to think of myself as nice, the critique period will be honest and blunt, so come caffeinated 😘

(Though we will have fresh brewed coffee available all day. Do you take me for a monster?!)




🦄  🌵 🤘🏽  🐳  🍻  🐙  👑  🐌 

details yo!



The workshop will start at 9:30 AM with a light breakfast and a chance to compare megapickles get to know each other, and will end at 6:00, at which time we'll reconvene in a local bar to celebrate our newfound statuses as compositing masters (especially after a beer or two), and you know, just talk about politics what we learned.


What will it cost?

The price is $397.62 for a full day of learning, a light breakfast, full lunch. What? That's it? Yes. Oh, and as much coffee as your nerves can handle.

What to bring?

Clothes, for a start. Some sort of note-taking device (pen and paper, ipad, laptop, typewriter, clay...), maybe some snacks, sass, and an open mind.


The workshop will be divided into 5 sections:



Introduction to Composition

What is it, what it isn't, why is it so important, and how do we use it?

Camera side choices

How our choices of lens, focus, aperture, shutter speed, etc. all contribute to the way our story is felt and told.

Elements of Composition

This will be the bulk of the workshop. How to use the elements "out there" to best tell our story. Framing, balance, adjectives, cropping, contrast, repetition, complementary elements, lines, layers, gestalt, and more!. We’ll talk about what they are and aren’t, and how they can help (or hurt us!) in telling our stories.

We will be going through photos from various masters of the craft and seeing how they used these elements to take their photos to the next level.


Often the best way to learn how to do things "right" (as if there is such a thing) is to see what we've done "wrong". We'll be going over your images and applying what we learned to see how we could have better told our story.

Practical tips and takeaways

We will cover A LOT of ground, and most are not "quick tips". Each idea will take time to work on and implement and make your own. We'll talk about ways to slowly use and internalize all the ideas we covered.


What about me?


So it seems that not everyone lives in Southern California or in New York City. Weird right?

Totally weird. But weird is good. Like, you ever see someone so normal that it's weird? So what does weird even mean? Should we ask Portland?

And like even if they are weird, is that a reason to withhold compositional gold? Do not weirdos want to learn? And is it good marketing to call those who might pay you to learn weird?

Get to the point already!!
— third grade teacher


Since it's a one day workshop, relatively inexpensive, and a very limited size, it's fairly easy to plan for more workshops in different places.

If you are interested in a workshop where you are (or want to get updated with news and dates and stuff) just fill out this little formadoodle and let's get the started party! (I started already. Obviously.)

Name *
Check one

or call me 510-309-7701. no prank calls. unless they're like really funny.





referral program

social media just ain't my soup and soda


Whereas I must get the word out about this workshop in order for people to find out about it and

Whereas Social media is generally the best and easiest way to do so and

Whereas I have 6 kids that need some good fashioned spanking, I mean homeschooling and

Whereas social media (for me) is a dangerous soul sucking black hole. literally (prove me wrong).

Therefore I, the great and bearded Zalmy Berkowitz, shall expect you guys to do all the work for me. Slave labor yo!!

That's not what I meant to write.

Therefore, for every person that books based on your referral, I'll send over $32.81 in cold hard cash. Or more like Venmo will tell your bank to add numbers to your account and take out numbers from mine. This whole money thing confuses me.

Just tell people to mention you when they sign up. Woohoo! moneydollarscashunicornpoop!

Caveat. The part that bothers me about this is that it kind of sounds like I'll be paying for good reviews, and well, I kind of am, but I don't want that to be it. Please be honest!! So this will only be for people who have attended a past workshop or have booked one coming up. Does that make sense?


that's All folks!

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Ha! Just kidding! we got ourselves some

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Tell a pun to a kleptomaniac. They take things literally.

Seriously this logo doesn't work with this layout! But I love Mastin Labs too much to let that get in my way.

One more line. Okay great.