Photography isn't a young person's game, though it may look it from afar. And now might be the best time there will ever be to give it a chance.
The label "photographer" can conjure myriad images, but most of them will be a variant of someone young, vibrant, and in great shape. The truth is very few genres of photography require even one of those stereotypes to be true, and even then, it can be overcome. Some of the best photographers in the industry are significantly closer to retirement age than they are their 20s. Yet, many followers of photography and indeed Fstoppers surprised me; they love the medium but haven't ever tried to learn the craft. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but if the desire is there to dive into photography with both feet, why isn't the action?
There are many legitimate reasons, but one of the most common excuses is a variant of "I'm too old to take up photography now," and it's simply not true. Furthermore, with lockdowns happening in most countries, there's never been a better time to take some online courses, watch tutorials, and try your hand at it. Our very own "Photography 101: How to Use Your Digital Camera and Edit Photos in Photoshop" is completely free at the moment.
I would argue that not only are you never too old to learn photography, but there are benefits to being a photographer with some life experience under your belt.
The Perks of Photography That Increase With Age
You Generally Have More Time
I've deliberately not specified age so far in this article, because I've seen and heard the aforementioned excuse said from as young as the 40s onwards. This particular perk might not apply as much to a 40-year-old as someone in retirement, but the trend is generally, the older you get, the more spare time you have. Once you've retired from work, you probably have more time than any other adult. So, not only do you have the time to learn a new skill, you have the time to employ and hone it, too.
You Have More Disposable Money Available
Another trend that works in your favor is financial: the older you get, the more disposable income you have available (again, not always the case, but generally speaking.) With mortgages being paid off and experience in your chosen career being rewarded, alongside the many other channels of accruing wealth, you're likely to have more disposable money available to you the older you get. Photography can be — though doesn't have to be — an expensive pursuit, so having a little money set aside for it can hold you in good stead, not only for equipment but for trips too.
You Have More Experience
This perk is difficult to quantify or even unpack, but I believe it has value. I've been a photographer for comfortably over a decade now, and my eye for shots has done nothing but improve. Some of that is being a photographer for that long, but also there's value in my experience: places I've traveled, things I've seen, and so on. I make different connections between themes and visuals than I did in my early 20s, and I suspect in another 10 years, I'll have improved again. Everything you have seen and done in your life so far plays a part in the aesthetics you enjoy and the photographs you want to create. At 21, I was merely going through the motions and trying to recreate what more rounded photographers were crafting. Whether consciously or not, you've been cultivating your tastes, so put them to good use.
You Have More Patience
This may not be true of everyone, but it's unquestionably a common theme that the older you get, the more patient you are. Whether you want to be a landscape photographer, shoot wildlife, or just capture portraits of your children or grandchildren, patience serves you well. Photography is a discipline that can feed off patience in both the learning of the craft and the application of it. A relaxed and reflective nature can be a powerful asset in photography.
It Has Health Benefits
I'm 32 — which is only old to snotty teenagers — but even I am not as I once was. Injuries from football take twice as long to heal if they bother to fully heal at all, and my stamina has gone from "unquestionable" to "constantly in question." This will continue to be the case, and so I need to ensure I do regular exercise, even if that's just going out for walks. The older you get, the truer and more important that statement becomes. So, you may as well have a camera with you, right? Nothing spices up a walk like lugging around your little picture box. You'll also want to photograph particular locations that result in exercise, so the health perks can be plentiful.
It's a Brilliant Creative Outlet
The older I get, the more I realize that creativity isn't just "something to do" for me, but a staple in my wellbeing. I'd go as far as to say that creative outlets are crucial to my equilibrium. That may not be the case for everyone, but if it's the case for you, photography might be just what you're after. It doesn't have to be hanging off of mountains in northern Norway either. Though I love elaborate shoots, nothing relaxes me more than doing macro photography in my garden during Spring.
Now Is the Best Time to Try
We're all a little sick of reading about COVID-19, but if you're staying inside — as you should — then you are likely in the best position to start picking up photography you'll ever be in. Take some courses (I'll plug our Photography 101 course again as it's free!) and try some photography around the house of pets, family members, fruit — anything. Get familiar with settings and spend this enforced increase in downtime learning a skill that will pay dividends.
Did you pick up photography later in life? What value has it had to you? Share in the comments section below.