Senior Planet member Menny Borovski’s photography workshops have always been popular, and usually have wait-lists.
No surprise there. His grandfather, who owned a photography shop, gave him his first camera when he was ten. Not only did he relish taking pictures, soon enough Menny took the next step: developing his own black and white photographs. “We’re surrounded by wonderful potential photographs all the time – if we cultivate our ability for ‘deep seeing,’” he says.
A Long Career
Menny’s 35-years career as an editorial designer for books and magazines, including 15 years at The New York Daily News, sharpened and strengthened his own “seeing” capability. After retiring, Menny dove back into his long-time hobby and, as a Senior Planet member, began leading photography workshops.
The first two took place in the spring of 2017 and 2018. But when Covid-19 struck, could the class continue for Spring 2020 solely over the internet?
A two-session photography test workshop proved that it could. The test was followed by a regular eight-session workshop which, by popular demand, was increased to nine sessions.
What made the sessions so popular?
“The focus on creativity and expression,” says Menny. “Since every photograph is a composition, the sessions were set up to identify the different elements of photographic composition and, most important, to cultivate a creative “seeing” awareness to enhance each individual’s own visual awareness.”
The format was simple. At each session, Menny detailed a composition element – line, shape, color, shadow, pattern. Attendees would incorporate the element discussed into their photographs through the photo-taking assignment.
“By teaching principles and techniques that make a photograph good or better, Menny gave us a wonderful foundation for picture-taking,” says Marian Goldberg, who applied what she had just learned when she shot her pictures for each assignment.
So did Adrienne Dean. She had long relished taking photographs. Since no special camera was required for the workshop – Adrienne used her cell phone — she was quick to sign up, expecting to pick up a few tips for taking better photographs. “But I got much more than I expected,” she reports.
One reason: At each session, attendees submitted photographs for explication and comment. “Seeing other people’s work based on the assignment expanded the learning experience,” says Adrienne.
She also echoed the point made by Menny: our world is filled with all these wonderful little things “out there” that we rarely notice, even the delicate patterns on a radiator grill. “Ever notice how delicate, even beautiful, some are?” Menny asks. “Close-up photographs reveal something that’s both familiar and unfamiliar — even on radiator grills!”
Almost to a person, attendees said that the workshop opened up the world, helping them to “see”. For Marian Goldberg, there was a special bonus. “I learned to trust my own sense of beauty. As the Bard said hundreds of years ago, ‘To thine own self be true’. I learned to trust my own sense of beauty mindful that what I see and what I photograph is what matters.”
I was so fortunate to have participated in this class and yearn for another session. Menny’s technique of teaching and the supportive comments from class participants fostered my creative eye.
I hope we will be able to group again; winter seems like a great time to challenge the eye.
I love those photos! I’m hoping Menny has another class soon since I missed the previous ones and I could really learn more on photography.
Dear SP Photographers,
I can say the classes must be working because your photographs are beautiful!
Please keep’em coming!
Be well, Kevin.
Menny’s class was a truly wonderful way to spend the summer. I was fortunate enough to take the initial two session class and then the nine week. Not only did I learn to see things differently but the class gave me a reason to go out and explore my neighborhood both the streets and the houses that grace them. And a special bonus — an exploration of and the wonderful gardens that New York is blessed with. I also very much enjoyed learning from all the participants in the class. It was truly a great experience and I would love to participate in another Menny class in the future. Thanks so much to all!
As one of the lucky persons who took Menny’s recent class, thanks for sharing some of our photos. It was a wonderful experience and I learned so much. Of course would love to continue with Menny’s approach to teaching photography. Even though our class experiences were “virtual”, they provided a way for us to view and comment on how others see the same themes. As well as absorbing how others see our own photos. A great class all around. Menny’s a patient and supportive teacher.
Clearly, this instructor succeeded in his education goal.
Would love to spend time at his classes.
It was an exercise in the value of simplicity.
Congratulations to all!
Will Menny be teaching any more classes at Senior Planet in the near future? Would love to take his class?