Retirement, film photography, and travel

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by ozmoose, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. ozmoose

    ozmoose Member

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    This topic has interested me for along time. I hope I have posted in the right forum for what I will be writing about.

    Many of us are getting somewhat long in the tooth, and are thinking about and/or actively considering retirement, or like me you may have already retired. I bit the bullet on my career and work life four years ago after 25 years as a self-employed design architect and before this, 22 years as a photojournalist, newspaper and TV media promotion writer, and freelance editor-writer. Alas, for most of my career "happy, wise and poor" was the first line in my Business Plan and I ceased work four years ago in a financial state I could not ever describe as "wealthy" or "comfortable" or even "well to do".

    I nowadays travel a lot. This means I often sit on sunny tropical beaches, hang out in small bars and at cafe in the seedier parts of Asian small towns, or looking at pleasant mountain scenes in Southeast Asia where life is easy and costs are low. Even then I check my bank balance on my laptop and wonder about the true meaning of the "wise" part in my life plan.

    Still, I'm enjoying my life, am never bored, and I meet many nice people and do no end of unexpected fun things every day on the road. An adequate if not lavish Australian pension, a small overseas stipend and a little put away for a rainy day in the bank, see me through.

    My retirement, fortunately blessed with excellent health and enough in the bank to fund a few years more of seat-of-the-pants budget travel, initially threw me a few left curves but I've now sorted all these out, and am finding many new opportunity are opening up in what I had long feared would be a boring old age on my rocking chair by an electric heater with a book and the cat on my lap. Not so. There is a cat, but it lives with my next door neighbors when I'm away from Australia. No electric heater is needed in Oz, and the rocking chair has yet to be priced and purchased. When I'm old, maybe...

    I'm curious and interested to learn how those of you who are also now retired as I am, or nearing the big six-five (or whatever age you've decided to take the plunge), have dealt or are dealing with it. Especially so those who have uprooted themselves and moved to a new location, as I may do in 2017, for reasons I won't go into in this first post, but will be happy to elaborate on in one of my future word-essay posts.
    How are you coping? Photography and travel are, I think, ideal topics to put under our collective word-microscope.

    Some ideas to be explored. Please feel free to contribute more. How do we cope with our film photography on reduced incomes? How many of us still maintain a darkroom, or have we mostly drifted to those methods we don't really like to or discuss too much here, which can be defined as "an enlarger-free darkroom situation"?

    In my case, I'll say for now (trying to be brief here) that I was born in Canada, grew up in New Brunswick (the province, not the city) and New Mexico, left North America in the '70s for Bangkok and Malaysia and finally Australia. So travel and photography are in my blood, my two lifelong passions. I spend as much time in Southeast Asia as I can, shooting black-and-white film of old European colonial architecture while I still can before money-mad property developers bulldoze the last colonial bungalow for yet another modern mini-mall, as if the world needs yet another shopping complex!

    IN 2015 and this year I took the time and made the big effort to reassess and reevaluate my photography in all its aspects. In doing this I identified some new areas for exploring and made many changes in the ways I had done things in the past, from the subjects I shoot to my darkroom techniques to photo filing to how much gear I can safely carry with me on my knockabout journeys.

    Please post your ideas and thoughts. I will add some more of my own in the next few days, about my cameras, buying and processing film, useful tips when traveling with film gear, and possibly more.

    In posting this I hope I am not duplicating other posts already in APUG, if so, my apology and please let me know where the posts are, my searches did not turn up anything similar to this one. If someone has already posted along these lines, maybe Sean could just link the two, or put my post into the existing one.

    Enough for now. Bon voyage to all of us on this.
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I first retired in 1969, but was lured to another job with less responsibility and 3X the pay for three more years. Then it was college and occasional work for two more decades. At 84 I'm totally retired, but busy doing a little pro bono photography, moving to a more comfortable home, and returning to lots of projects that were shelved for many years. It's easier (and much cheaper) to look for photogenic subjects wherever I am than to go on the photo expeditions of younger years. There are still decades of negatives to go through again and much camera equipment to use or sell. There are so many good books available online and so much inspiring and informative talk and photographs on photo forums. Life is good.
     
  3. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Subscriber

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    I guess I'm in somewhat the same boat as Jim...albeit at 64, just a young buck! :smile: After 38 years as an IT professional, I retired about 3 years ago. I always heard that you don't want to retire too early because you're just going to be bored. I can assure you that I haven't been bored for even a single minute! Like Jim, this time has allowed me to pursue projects that I just never had the time for while doing the career thing, raising kids, etc. I was both feet in the analog camp until 2000 when I tore apart my darkroom, mainly due to a move across the USA, and went the "enlarger free" route. After about 10 years of that, and way more money than I ever spent on analog equipment, I slowly migrated back to film and set up another darkroom because I missed shooting with my old cameras and I missed the whole process of analog photography. I don't travel much; preferring to plant myself in areas of the country where I'd like to live, learn, and photograph. I like to return to places over and over until I feel a connection. It's then that I feel I do my best work. I believe it was Ansel Adams in one of his videos where he was discussing Point Lobos said, "It's just a place, with a capital 'P'." When I feel that way about a place, I know I'm ready to photograph.

    Again, don't mean to steal Jim's lines, but... Life is good! I hope that 20 years from now I'm as active and engaged as he is...
     
  4. frank

    frank Member

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    Retirement is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Lov'in it!
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I hope to follow your lead at 84 Jim, twenty years to go , very inspiring post.
     
  6. After 150 yrs in the corporate environment of aerospace engineering, I finally retired in 2007, having just finished re-designing and building my current darkroom, I find retirement to be the supreme experience in life. While employed, though I thoroughly enjoyed the work, I spent many weekends backpacking and photographing in the mountains of western states and Canadian Rockies, and the free time for photographic experiences was relished. Now, crowding 82, the mind is still willing but the body isn't as enthusiastic about toting a Sinar Norma 4x5 or 5x7 or 8x10; distance from the truck is inversely proportional to the load carried. Eventually it'll boil down to only darkroom work with all those negatives, so not really a problem.
     
  7. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I'm retiring in just over two weeks from now, then going crazy with a backlog of remodeling projects, and hoping just to find some darkroom time
    here and there. I managed a couple of days in the darkroom during the Thanksgiving break, simply because it was too rainy to finish outdoor projects. But I got a couple nice walks in the rain too, and a few decent shots. My Norma is one of my investments for relatively old age, meaning
    my 70's. I have lighter view cameras for backpacking, and then, behind that, a medium format rangefinder. But if my legs or knees do finally wear
    out, I'll have lots and lots of existing negatives on hand. Eventually I'll just wither away and get sucked up through the fume hood myself, but without
    a trace of Dektol - into the land of pure amidol and glycin!... or if I'm unlucky, into all those wild bees that keep trying to build a hive in my exterior
    exhuast fan!
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Since I retired over two years ago, I have not found that the retirement has interfered with travel not photography.
     
  9. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    At the tender age of 30, I realized I didn't want to work any longer than I had to, so we started planning, saving, investing and budgeting to quit early. It worked, and I retired when I was 51, but my wife wanted to keep working for a bit because she liked her job. There were lots of things to do, projects to finish, I like to cook, and after a few more years, she quit and we moved to a little place we had bought many years ago in the south-east corner of France.(One of our investments).
    But one day I realized that time was like most other things. If you have a lot of it, you start to waste it. Days went by with nothing really accomplished, and I started to get seriously bored. My will power and motivation seem to have drained away. So, I'm 63, in good health, no financial worries, live in one of the prettier parts of the world, and I sound like a whiner.
    It certainly doesn't sound like ozmoose has this problem, but does anybody else?
     
  10. tedr1

    tedr1 Member

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    I am similarly blessed :smile:
     
  11. frank

    frank Member

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    Lot's of fine cheeses to go with that w(h)ine!
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Ha! I have a hiking and photo pal who is independently wealthy and around my age. He's a very skilled person who knows how to work, but is always complaining that he's never had a real job, so is still looking for one. He probably spends more on a single vacation that I have in an entire
    life of vacations, and vacationing is mostly what he does. But I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
     
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Now 62, retired a little over a year ago (12 yrs with the US Forest Service, 24 yrs with Humboldt State University), bought a smallish house and slowly working on it. I am still using my bathroom and kitchen for photo work, but will eventually have a full darkroom and a house that is basically my studio for the years I have left. The three boys are in colleges scattered around and I have a couch they can crash on if they are in town, but their mom's house is nearer to friends and far more comfortable.

    The need to travel far away is not very strong in me anymore. It is an endless journey; learning to know the land and light of where I live. Stretch that out to the whole Pacific Northwest and there is more than enough to learn and be surprised about for the rest of my life. Curiosity will probably and eventually drive me further afield (after all, Iceland is just sitting there!), but I look forward to working close to home.

    Still backpacking, but I am also finding that just being still, perhaps watching the river flow, is a valuable activity. I have friends my age that are far more busy than I. Good for them!
     
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  15. Ai Print

    Ai Print Subscriber

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    Props to those who are enjoying retirement, but.....I really, really hope I never *have* to retire, I simply love what I do far too much and after nearly 30 years of it, feel like I am just getting started.
     
  16. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Shoot as much film as you can so you will have lots of negatives to keep you busy.
     
  17. wy2l

    wy2l Member

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    Retirement plans? I'm 63, and plan to work until I die.
    One retires with income, not age!
     
  18. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    That's been my plan for the past 10 years. I have warehoused a boat load of negatives just waiting for full retirement.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    ozmoose

    ozmoose Member

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    Thank you all for such inspiring posts.

    Jim Jones and Alan9940, you are true role models! I too have had to learn to plan, pace myself, and get organised to do things and more things with my time. Moving homes is (again) on the cards for us in '17, from the Tasmanian town we bought into as a plan for my retirement, a pleasant enough hamlet but we now feel the need to be closer to the "high culture" of Melbourne, which we miss - also my partner is younger and misses the mainstream career options of a larger urban center. This move will mean yet another rationalising and culling of material things, with an emphasis (for me) on liberating yet more camera and darkroom gear, and lightening the load overall in my life.

    On retiring four years ago I did a huge stock take and reevaluated my photography and after great effort and much shedding of blood, sweat and tears, reluctantly parted with most of my 50+ (I stopped counting at 50, hence the "+") on Ebay. I did a similar cull in 2014 and again this year. The Hasselblad kit, too little used, was sold last month. I now have about 15 (okay, than 20? 25?) but all are now used - in the past they stayed in storage cartons and almost never saw daylight or film. Cartons of unloved darkroom bits (I had 17 processing tanks, imagine!) went to friends or local charities. Films and enlarging paper still fill up a freezer and a large fridge but will be drastically downsized next year. Given my itinerant lifestyle a small darkroom with limited stocks of paper and chemistry now suits me best.

    Traveling in Asia at 69 means taking much less with me and making the best use of it. Films and B&W chemistry) can be bought locally. I'll stop processing B&W I go, at my age I'm sure enough of my shooting to be able to give this up and not miss it. Slide film (I'm using up old stock and won't be buying more) is easily processed out of Singapore and a small B&W lab in Ipoh, Malaysia (the 90 year owner old did 120 Tri-X for me in 1974) will P&P my B&W while I indulge in a cold Tiger beer and a rum chaser at a nearby Indian bar.

    Drew, you have likely figured out that the 'secret' is to plan but not overplan, to do one or two projects but know when to stop to keep the interest up, and go to other things. For me, one of the great joys of life like Frank's "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow", a wonderful line, that, is the freedom to do or not to do what I want, indulge in as few or as many stimulating activities and projects as I like, and put down the camera or the tools when I feel like it.

    As for being bored, well, hdeyong, yes, I have - usually at home in Australia. Travel keeps it under control. As an architect (and a Sagittarian), I zigzag between my need to attain perfection in what I do and my basic slack nature to ignore things until they fix themselves. I know how familiarity can easily lead to boredom, if I stay too long in one place and fall into the trap (for me) of doing only predictable things, I can easily become critical and cynical, and (so I'm told) generally horrible to be with. So I travel, or rather wander, four or five, six months away, then a stay month or two at home to do repair things that won't cure themselves, tend the garden, enjoy long lunches with friends, soak up baked salmon and superb local oysters by the half dozen and good Tasmanian cold-climate red wines - then off and away I go. While I can. When my travels eventually end, I also will crank up my minimalist darkroom and burn up globes in my Focomat 1C and LPL 7700 enlargers, printing my stash of negatives.

    hdeyong, as a young 'journo' in 1966 I was six months in a network news office in Marseille, and first saw the beauty of France as it was (and I hope, still is). At 63, admirably young to me, are you really letting your days flow "with nothing really accomplished" or are you just not achieving things you crave to do? There lies a great difference. I would try looking, planning and thinking laterally, or plan new photo projects, or hit the road for a few weeks or a month or two. A fortnight in Portugal or exploring some of the small isolated islands in the Mediterranean, may well reboot your joie de vivre...

    We are now almost at two pages, woo hoo! I hope to see many more.The flow of good and inspiring posts is too good to be stopped. Retirement is bliss!
     
  20. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    Thanks for the advice ozmoose, and you're right. I've always told people that life is what you make of it, and am now ignoring my own words. Time for a completely new, long-term project and some more travel.
    I envy these people who replied, being so happy and satisfied. Time to get off my butt and do something.
    By the way, I may have given the wrong impression, I'm not rich. We drive a 1996 Ford Fiesta, and can pay the bills.
    Like yourself, I hope there are more replies, they're encouraging.
     
  21. jwd722

    jwd722 Subscriber

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    If my boss has his way I'll be able to retire two days after my last breath...only if it's a slow week though.
     
  22. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Retirement, film photography, and travel -- highly recommended!! :laugh:

    I retired a couple of years before I planned to, thanks to big corporate fish swallowing smaller ones. And hdeyong's comment
    has an alarmingly familiar ring!

    I was subjected to a "head count adjustment" in early 2002 around the time my 13 years younger wife landed a quite respectable position in a local big pharma company. At the time, we had a niece doing her senior year of high school with School Year Abroad in Italy So we wound up touring Italy for two weeks during her spring break, Venice, Rome, Verona, Florence, and Pisa. I shot a few hundred frames of color film. Three years later we went back, stayed in Sorrento and day tripped to Pompeii, Ercolano, etc and I'm embarrassed to say, I shot only digital. It was when I came back and looked at some of the shots from those old ruins -- incredible textures from erosion and weather, etc. -- that I had flashes of B&W enlargements to concentrate on line, shadow and texture. And since the pros went digital, it was easy to get into medium format. I cobbled together a fair amount of Bronica gear and rehabbed the darkroom (which spent the two previous decades as pretty much a storage closet). I suggest the darkroom is actually just a dark room; it still doesn't have a working sink or proper cabinets and counters -- more like a collection of cast-off and improvised furniture. But an upgrade is "on the list" -- the list that's about thirty feet long, single spaced .... :blink:

    So I've been fumbling along, have achieved some local notoriety with work entered in area art and/or photo shows. I also do some woodworking, gardening, have been dabbling in bonsai -- which got me into taking ceramics classes at my local community college to make my own pots. I also for far too long have been doing a newsletter for a local art club I belong to, and then also a website, and somehow seem to have gotten more and more entangled in club events like shows -- hanging work, making title cards, photographing the winners, generating a catalog ... There is an old saying in the engineering world about projects expanding to fill the time available -- and then there's "mission creep." I am still amazed that otherwise functioning mature adults seem unable to perform the simplest tasks with a word processor or the like -- "Could you make up some certificates to thank our sponsors?"

    Two years ago, My Faire Spouse took an early retirement package, but then landed a consulting contract that ran into early this year. But this summer we did a 5800 mile drive from the Philly 'burbs to as far as northern Arizona and southern Utah and many things in between. Grand fun, and while I admit to shooting a pile of digit@l frames I'm still trying to organize, I also shot a bunch of B&W film in my Yashica TLR. I developed it pretty quickly upon my return, but have yet to seriously print any of them. There seems to be an endless stream of interruptions (including Faire Spouse having a hip replacement {"warranty repair"}in September).

    So -- "I'm Dave and I'm a procrastinator ...." I also live on two acres of partially wooded hillside and have plenty of yard work to do, as well as I traditionally do all my own electrical and plumbing repairs, etc. So I won't say boredom is a problem, but may admit to time management difficulties! :whistling: Anyway, I turned 75 in July, but so far am toddling along pretty well. I do have a cataract procedure coming up in December and hopefully the other eye shortly thereafter -- more warranty repairs -- that will at least allow me to better see what I'm not doing! :D

    I still think of another overseas trek, but time, money, and the current blowback state from ugly American syndrome have restrained us a bit at present. I do enjoy wandering around the US -- and even just here near home -- often doing a photo project on some historic or scenic site from time to time.

    Remember these wise words -- "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." :cool:
     
  23. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Admirable planning and work-skills from the OP. :smile:

    I'm in the second half of my fifties and foolishly did not make plans for retirement in my 20s and 30s. The main problem is income, or rather the work to provide an income. The notional retirement age here is now 68, though it will probably go up a couple more years before I get there - but that isn't a problem as I will then still have to try to work to pay living expenses. Probably I should have studied harder at school/Uni and taken more advice when I was in my twenties!

    It seemed that projects, plans and trips would be placed between work contracts, and indeed some trips have been (usually involving mountains) but this became untenable as intermittently 'disappearing' is not popular with employers in recessionary times and also between-contract-time requires increasing effort to find the next employers, the quality of which are slowly declining.

    Probably I am trying to say that planning for a career and financial-planning for retirement are both just as important as thinking of retirement-projects, in terms of what is going to be achievable. So all you twenty-somethings, organise yourself now and don't put it off until 'later'. Then again, maybe there are no twenty-somethings in a forum covering such an 'oldie' subject?
     
  24. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Yes, indeed! A few decades ago a local author wrote a popular book, How to become a millionaire on $20,000. Economic conditions change, and the advice in the book is now obsolete. If Donald Trump had read and carefully followed this book, he would be far richer than he is now without that big boost from his father. Few are willing to plan ahead and make the sacrifices when young to provide for a comfortable and secure retirement. I stumbled onto one path to early retirement by enlisting in the U. S. Navy and making it a career. Military service, like most positions, is a gamble. The odds in the Navy were much better than investing in the lottery. It also meant some fine opportunities for photography and post-retirement employment. It including sometimes working long hours, living in meager quarters, and separation from family and many friends. Such opportunities and sacrifices are easy for the young, but difficult for older people. My advice is to always consider the future before acting. A corollary to that is to never do anything stupid.
     
  25. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Some of us have never aspired to the sorts of misery attached to greed. I've known a lot of rich people, and very few of them are happy. And no matter how much money one has, it never seems to be enough, and inevitably slides down the drain. So there are vastly more important things in life. Yeah, that means working every day for the past half century in order to sustain obligations to family; but at least I can retire with a sense of honor. But that has also meant some common sense planning and financial conservatism, without obsessing about it. Far too many things are out of our control anyway. But there are common sense things like paying the house off first, never carrying a credit card balance, planning for those toys
    I will actually use in retirement versus those I won't, so don't really need; reliable vehicles, low-risk investments, staying healthy - which automatically comes with the territory of lugging big cameras all over the hills and woods. I never smoked, thank goodness.
     
  26. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Subscriber

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    I wholeheartedly second everything Drew said! I never planned to retire early, but I knew I never wanted to be locked into anything because of finances; including jobs! Over the years, my wife and I always reinvested in ourselves--saved as much as we could, never spent beyond our means, never ran any balance on any credit card, used credit cards with no annual fee (a not so common thing many years ago), used credit cards that payed us back in some form (cash, discounts, etc), always maxed out our 401K contributions every year, etc, etc. I used to always say, "I hate giving other people my money!" I used to joke with friends and family that not only did I detest paying interest on things like car loans, school loans, etc, but I carried that same feeling over to our mortgages! I've owned my own homes since 1978 and over the last nearly 40 years I made mortgage payments for about 1/2 that time. We frequently doubled up on our payments and made large principal payments whenever possible. Never bought a car that I couldn't pay outright for. And, the couple of times I bought a new car I drove both for nearly 200K miles and just recently sold one of 'em that I owned for 18 years. My father once told me when I was very young, "If you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves." Guess I took that advice to heart!

    Very inspiring posts in this thread. And, lest I forget... THANK YOU, Jim, for serving your country and to all those serving now which allows me to enjoy these peaceful retirement years.
     
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