Retirement and Photography

Within the last few months I have been meeting recent retirees who have taken up photography as a way to fill anticipated free time and add an interesting challenge to their future.

I talked to a recently retired fellow last week about an expensive new lens he had purchased as a retirement present for himself. I was as excited as he is about his new lens and thought that it was a neat way to start his retirement. When I mentioned he will have lots of time to do photography, he made me laugh at his reply, “yes, as soon as it gets warmer”, but I know a bit of cold weather isn’t going to stop him. Anytime I get something new, I can’t wait to start using it. So, even though he complained about the cold, he’ll be out this week with his new telephoto lens putting it to use no matter the temperature. I know he wants to photograph birds, but I suggested he take a drive to a nearby area photograph the Bighorn sheep just for practice. 

Baby boomers are starting to retire and many are seriously taking up photography. I heard one fellow say, “I figure with the time I have I should enjoy every day.”  He had just retired and had spent well over $20K on a camera and lenses to set himself up for wildlife photography.  For those that gasp at that level of expenditure, be aware that his recreational investment won’t be taxed every year, won’t need expensive maintenance, and will give him years of enjoyment at no real additional cost, except perhaps expenses to drive to some exciting location.

Another retired friend just downsized to a small apartment, although an avid hunter all his life, he has given up packing a rifle, and instead packs a camera with a long lens attached. He explained to me that he really likes to hunt, but the fun ended and the work started when he shot something, however now it continues after the shutter is released and I expect he enjoys the compliments others given him when he displays a great photograph. He can hunt and photograph wildlife anytime and anywhere. His story of how he snuck up on an elk herd near Jasper by quietly wading a glacier fed river, and crawling through the underbrush, for many super images of majestic elk was superb. I can imagine him wet to his waist, covered with mud and pine needles, but happy and excited with the pictures he captured. Now that’s hunting.

Modern camera technology has freed photographers from equipment and production challenges of the past.  A photographer no longer is weighed down with heavy, metal-bodied SLR (single lens reflex) cameras, and lenses. Gone is the challenge of selecting the correct film for lighting conditions, and the need to worry about storage of film for long trips. Like me, those photographers with tired, old eyes now own cameras that quickly focus by themselves with focus assist indicators for fine detail. The days of returning home from vacation with film, and waiting for days to have it processed, or worrying about how to pay for the processing are happily long gone. Photographers immediately know if they got the shot right and can delete the errors.  We have passed the “click-and-pray” days.

Want to send a picture to the grandkids? It’s laughably easy.  I remember a three-month trip across Canada that I took in the 1970s. I would shoot slides, put them in mailers, and have them sent to my home address. My house-sitting friends would then get together and have slide shows wondering where I was when the picture was made. Today I could post my pictures for friends and family with commentary on a social network, or an image-sharing site like Flickr, from my motel room or while relaxing at Starbucks.

Photography is a tailor made pastime for retirement. It is supposed to be a great time of life and what better way to capture new memories, to be creative, to remain active, and to keep that brain stimulated by working with a camera.

3 responses to “Retirement and Photography

  1. “Photography is a tailor made pastime for retirement”

    Couldn’t agree more with this. It is even more true with digital photography, which has really driven down the running costs.


      • Hi. No, not personal experience (yet), it was just an observation that was brought into focus by your piece that the ongoing costs of digital photography are so low that it is an ideal hobby for the retired.


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