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Just retired? Photography is the perfect hobby

Making pictures with professional photographer John Enman
Black and white as a photographic medium. (John Enman photo)

A longtime friend who I hadn’t seen for awhile stopped by to tell me he had just retired and was thinking photography would be a good hobby. We talked about the gear he had, and I (of course) agreed that photography would be great.

I have been thinking about him, and I thought I’d repost this article from November of 2011.

The last few months I have met retirees who have taken up photography as a way to fill anticipated free time and add an interesting challenge to their future.

One recently retired fellow mentioned an expensive new lens he got as a retirement present. 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 won’t stop him.

Anytime I get something new I can’t wait to start using it.

Even though he complained about the cold, he’ll be out this week with his new telephoto lens no matter the temperature. I know he wants to photograph birds, but I suggested he take a drive to a nearby area to photograph the bighorn sheep.

That age group called Baby Boomers are retiring and many are seriously taking up photography. One fellow I met said, “I figure with the time I have I should enjoy every day.”

He had just retired and spent well over $20,000 on a camera and lenses. 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 when he travels to some exciting location.

Another retired friend just downsized to a small apartment and although an avid hunter all his life he gave up packing a rifle and will be packing 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. Now the fun continues after he “shoots” his prey and I expect he will enjoy the compliments when he displays a great photograph.

He can hunt and photograph wildlife anytime and anywhere. His story of sneaking up on an elk herd near Jasper, quietly wading a glacier fed stream and crawling through underbrush to get images of majestic elk, had me imagining him wet to his waist, covered with mud and pine needles, but happy and excited with the pictures. 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. Gone is the challenge of selecting the correct film for lighting conditions, and film storage for long trips.

Like me, those photographers with tired, old eyes now own cameras that quickly auto-focus. The days of returning home from vacation with film, and waiting to have it processed and paying for that processing are happily long gone. Photographers immediately know if they got the shot right and can delete the errors.

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 lab 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 post my pictures for friends and family with commentary on a social network, or any image-sharing site from my motel room or while relaxing at a coffee shop.

Photography is a tailor made pastime for retirement. For many it’s a great time of life with lots of freedom. And what better way to capture and share new memories, be creative, remain active, and to keep that brain stimulated by working with a camera.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at or

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