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I've decided to retire from photography...
Old 09-06-2019   #1
ozmoose
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I've decided to retire from photography...

In a way, this is a self-destructive thread - I expect those who have already 'retired' from photography are no longer reading these threads or even this site, and so won't be commenting. Those still involved in photography may wish to comment, if so, please do!

At age (almost) 72, I have decided that I have had enough of a lifetime of photography - since the age of 13 when I acquired my first TLR (Yashica D) camera, then a Rolleiflex, Nikkormats, Leicas in 1980 onwards, various other shooters in the '90s, Hasselblads (an ill-thought out investment for which I still kick myself), and finally digital from 2009.

Now, after almost 60 years of nonstop shooting, I believe I've had enough. It's time to hang up the cameras - and in fact sell them all - and devote the time I have left in my life to other pursuits. Other aspects of photography now demand my attention - 100,000+ negatives and slides to be checked, archived, captioned and keyworded. Boxes of old prints not looked at for many years, sorted out and those I no longer want to keep destroyed. Ditto many negatives. Over the years, I've shot probably thousands of images of our long-deceased cats - after I've floated away to cloud land, nobody in the family will be even remotely interested in these photographs, and the lot will most likely go into a rubbish 'skip' and taken away to the local dump for disposal, likely as landfill. Or burnt. So best I do it beforehand.

Throughout my life, I now realise, I've been far too focused on my photography, at the expense of other aspects of life meant to be enjoyed, but sadly neglected. To a point. I've still found time to enjoy many things in life, but time is now passing (too) quickly, and needs must. I want what time will be given to me, to be fully utilised, and I now feel I've 'done my dash' in photography over my lifetime. Enough is enough.

Yet for all that, I do not intend to entirely give up photography - let's say only 95%. My Leica and Nikon/Nikkormat collections, also my beloved Rollei TLRs, will be sold but in the not too distant future I plan to acquire ONE digital camera. Maybeone of the newer 'portable' Leicas*with a fixed lens or, if my budget permits, a late model M with one one lens, 35mm or 28mm. That will be it. To snapshot when I go traveling overseas or on road jaunts across Australia with my partner and our one remaining cat, ageing (like its owner) but who still enjoys being on the road with us.

In this I have the full support of my*partner, who recently commented, "I did wonder when you would get to making that*decision."

Has anyone else thought about this? It is, after all, a step we will all have to take at some time in the future, whether sooner or later.

And if so, how did you or will you or would you go about it? I feel the need to seek some guidance from others who may have valuable thoughts to share on what is to me, a life-changing decision.

Your input will be most appreciated. I intend to remain a rangefinderforum member for some time yet, and will respond to those comments I deem worthy of following up.

Over to you, please!
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Old 09-06-2019   #2
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I think it’s a brave choice in a lot of ways, and it’s hard to say anything except acknowledge that when you have clearly thought it through.

I live in Adelaide - PM me if you ever come through and if I’m available (my regular job is crazily busy) we can catch up for a coffee, beer or a meal, whatever you prefer. Same goes for any other RFFers.

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Old 09-06-2019   #3
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I think it is a great topic, leaving the major vision or leaving the vision entirely and not even being tempted. One camera or none at all, etc. There is also the exit strategy with an archive such as yours that mirrors many of ours ( I am at 136,000 clicks for the year ).

I asked my self this question last year when I was evacuated from my home by a wildfire. I managed to get all my photo gear and all my computer equipment and not a stitch of film, negatives, prints or the rare and expensive darkroom equipment I own. I vowed that if I lost my home I would sell all the gear and start a new life in another country, no cameras.

But thankfully all is well so as it stands right now I am 52 and I am having the best year of my career of 31 years thus far, so what I hope to do is keep making photographs and especially great negatives to print that even if I can not roam around and make images in my old age, I can print them.

But I also think I should do better at the will part, mine is a big infrastructure to consider divesting of and an enormous archive with much historical worth to reckon with. The latter part has been broached with curators and the local historical society.

A lot to think about and consider if you are a life long image maker like many of us are.
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Old 09-06-2019   #4
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Things run their course... do what feels right.
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Old 09-06-2019   #5
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Old 09-06-2019   #6
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It is not retiring. It is switching from film to digital. Many known people done it on retirement age.
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Old 09-06-2019   #7
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Well, parting out singly, either here on RFF or on ebay is your best bet at liquidation. Don't try to use a photo store or consignment shop. Don't sell "kits", as they fetch far less than if you sold each item individually. For example, sell a lens and camera separately, not as a camera with lens.

What you wrote resonates with me.
A large part of my youth was spent pursuing my hobbies. Photography is ultimately a very solitary hobby. Now I realize that the time would have been better spent in a balanced way with family - many of whom are no longer here.

I had a hard drive crash and lost all of my images. Luckily I still have the negatives, so one day I will have to scan them again. Not all, as I have to be selective!

My acquisition of gear has slowed down, as I'm in the busy phase of my career. I have been buying in twos though. Two Rolleiflexes for example. My idea was that in time I would leave one of each to my two sons. I would have to get them interested in photography first, so that's a project. They are 7 and 11 now, so I'd best get started on the older one.

The same actually goes for my fountain pen collection. I've been buying in twos for the same purpose. But, as the recent surgery that my wife had pointed out, I can't take any of the people in my life for granted. Our lives are too short for that.
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Old 09-06-2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozmoose View Post
...
Has anyone else thought about this? It is, after all, a step we will all have to take at some time in the future, whether sooner or later.
...
I spent a half hour on the phone with one of my photo buddies today. I've known him and done/discussed/analyzed my photography with him for the past 25+ years. He's 94 now, and was telling me about his experimentation with some new film that's come out recently.

"I'm not entirely sure why I still do this," he said.

"Because you love it, Don, and it gets you out of the house and out of your wife's hair."

"Hmm, I suppose you're right." I could see him smiling across the phone wire.

I, on the other hand, at the stripling age of 65, have just started a whole new set of photo projects that I suspect will take me about 15 years to finish, should I survive that long. At the same time, I decided to retire from motorcycling ... still love it when I'm on the bike, and I have a superb motorcycle that I bought and built up to suit me perfectly in 2017 ... but I just don't want to ride any more. Not a big deal: I just stopped when I felt it was time.

I don't read much of importance into these decisions. Do what you do because it's your decision what to do with your time, particularly at the age we've attained post-career-time. What else did we work out butts off to do other than be able to say "Yes" when we want to do something, and "No" when we don't at this point in life?

Life is too short to waste it meditating on things that aren't particularly important. I'd rather spend my time reflecting on the lovely constellation of my lifetime's warm memories of family, friends, events, and adventures ... and thinking about the days yet to come: all the new things yet to experience...

G

"We all get to be young and foolish in our lives. If we survive that, we get to be old and foolish."
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Old 09-06-2019   #9
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Hi Ozmoose,

Thank you for your reflections... it makes sense to me, as I am approaching the same period of life... if only for economy, I plan to take more digital pictures and less film when I stop working full time. Also I've been luck to have had another consuming passion (writing) and I alternate back and forth between the two. Keeps it from being too much of a burden. I may just give some equipment away, don't know if I want the hassle of posting and selling it. But then most of my equipment would only be valuable to another nut case (!) who likes Zorki's, etc. Certainly there is more to life than any one thing, no matter how much you enjoy it... thanks again for the thoughts.
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Old 09-06-2019   #10
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Got my first camera and started shooting when I was 7 and went full time professional in college in 1968. It’s all I’ve done and had tons of fun and made lots of lifelong friends including my wife who was a client. I’m coming up on 71 in early Nov and started to burnout about the time I hit 66. Working 80+ hours a week for years and the responsibility of owning a big studio I couldn’t wait to retire. I sold equipment and started informing clients I was retiring, then i was diagnosed with cancer which was like a kick in the head. I came to the realization the relationships I’d formed with clients were special. they weren’t just clients, they were great friends that care and depend on me. Some had been client / friends for over thirty years. I realized what I do when I shoot for them is to visit my friends with my camera. It’s not like a job, it’s getting together.

I’m happy to report my cancer is behind me now and I’m 4 years out and my Drs don’t think I’ll ever have another problem. I thinned out the clients to about 6 that are special and shoot a job or two a week. I still love what I do and still look forward to the jobs that challenge me. I just couldn’t mentally face full time retirement.

I have a wonderful wife and we have a wonderful time together. We share many activities together. We travel some and share our art and hobbies. I feel I’ve found a very good balance.

Id like to continue working like this for a few more years. My wife is 7 years younger and she’s a very successful painter. She’s very active in multiple galleries and plans to continue producing shows until she’s 70. At that point if I can still work I’ll see how I feel about retirement. I also show in 7 fine galleries and will continue in art until I no longer can.

As to archive of images, I do commercial & documentary work and have about 100,000 negatives of historic importance. The regional history center and a major university will house the collection eventually.

Best of luck with your decision. A cold hard stop can kill old guys do be sure you’re ready. I thought I was then realized I wasn’t.
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Old 09-06-2019   #11
Keith
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Great post and I think it applies to many pursuits.

For fifty years motorcycles consumed me and dominated my life ... I bought and owned them, sold them, bought more, worked on and made a living out of them, raced them, restored them and generally worshiped them. Then one day I just stopped and haven't owned or ridden one for ten years.

I love the MotoGP racing and never miss it but that's it ... we are done!
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Old 09-06-2019   #12
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I think periodic reality-checks can be a healthy thing, but one thing I've discovered which proved to be a lot of fun is "giving myself permission" to do something out of character. For instance, if you're currently considering Leica, just for fun, check out other brands even if they seem too cheap to take seriously. And if you've gravitated towards hefty metal, try lightweight plastic instead. Got a $10,000 budget, try paring that down to $500 or so - it really is amazing how good a camera one can buy for almost nothing, particularly if you buy factory-refurbished items.

But if you really are tired of photography, maybe it's just time to do other things: Late in his life, Henri Cartier-Bresson put down his camera and took up charcoal drawing instead.
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Old 09-07-2019   #13
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In my humble opinion, taking the time to curate your lifetime’s collection of images is the single most important pursuit to have done while you still can. It is a history, and in a sense, your legacy, since you have taken so much of your life to create it. Let it not be for nothing but a pile of slides and negs that nobody will see again. Make sure they will.

As for hanging up your camera, you don’t sound remotely like that is your plan. If you feel like taking photos, do. If not, don’t. It’s not a philosophical decision. Every day is yours do do with as you see fit. You are entitled to change your mind as often as you like. That’s the beauty of free will
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Old 09-07-2019   #14
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Archiving your negatives and prints should be an interesting project. When you do, please share some pictures on RFF! I'd be interested in your architectural shots in Asia. All the best, Peter
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Old 09-07-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
Great post and I think it applies to many pursuits.

For fifty years motorcycles consumed me and dominated my life ... I bought and owned them, sold them, bought more, worked on and made a living out of them, raced them, restored them and generally worshiped them. Then one day I just stopped and haven't owned or ridden one for ten years.

I love the MotoGP racing and never miss it but that's it ... we are done!
With you 100% of the way, Keith!

I was forced off the bikes for a decade and some by growing physical incapacity ... hip going bad, strength going to pot, balance gone, pain pain pain. I hated getting off the bike then.

Hip replaced, all the other ills taken care of, I had to get back on. And did: relearned all my skills, built once more "the bike of my dreams" and loved riding it. And then the motivation to actually get on it disappeared—I'd done it all, I'd ridden as far as I wanted to go. No point to it anymore. I was happy, and satisfied, with my accomplishments. And I just stopped.

Other things now consume my passions, riding a motorcycle is a fond memory and many moments in Time. When I ride on two wheels now, I ride my bicycle and love it.

And when the Motorcycle GP is on, I am there with my friends, racing with the youngsters on the track. And loving it: It's great!!!

G
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Old 09-07-2019   #16
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I think I'm a bit younger than most of you at only 62, and right now I can't imagine stopping photography, something that has been a constant companion since I was a child. Still so many images I want to capture.

But what was really surprising as I read thru this thread was how many folks mentioned motorcycles. I started riding not long after I started making photographs, and the two activities have been my passions for over half a century. Like Keith mentioned, I've owned many, wrenched on them all, raced a few, road cross country on others, and they've been my constant companions. I've ridden in rain storms, snow storms, desert heat, and even got caught in a tornado once (hid under a highway overpass). At the beginning of August I was supposed to do another cross country trip on my latest bike that I'd spent months prepping for the journey. But something came up and I wasn't able to go. And I haven't touched the bike since. And the weird thing is, I don't have a desire to ride it. That's never happened before. I mentioned to my wife that I was thinking about selling the bike and be done with riding and she was shocked, in the 21 years we've been together she's never known me without a motorcycle.

I guess we change, even when we never expect that we would. I can't imagine at this time that I'd ever lose the desire to make photos, but I never thought I'd lose the desire to ride either.

Just my 2¢ worth. Good luck with the decision you make OzMoose

Best,
-Tim

PS: And I too would never miss a MotoGP race, that is, until Rossi retires. Then, I might be done.
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Old 09-07-2019   #17
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Motorcycles and mopeds used to be nothing but transportation. For very many. And fun, hobby.
Or something else, but not in all countries and continents.
I was at Outsiders in AGO where they have all kinds of humans exposed on pictures.
Cross dressers, another wrongly treated people on Diana Arbuz pictures and moto gangs somewhere in the States.
Now I see much less people on Harleis, they are not young and more on different loud noise pitch more smell scooters. Those are younger.
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Old 09-07-2019   #18
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I am more of a variety kind of person; like to mix things up. There are a lot of interesting things out in the world so that heavy feeling of 'what do I do next' always seems to solve itself. I'm sure this will happen to you- especially if go through your archives: memories will be triggered, ideas will flow, and places will want to be seen again. Good luck!
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Old 09-07-2019   #19
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My two cents...motor bikes and photography, as such have as much in common as bicycles and fish.
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Old 09-07-2019   #20
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Run Over by a Beer Truck

I've always maintained that would be my only acceptable end. I'm 71.

My father was an artist and photographer, I was in the family dark room at age 8. I have an MFA in art. Arty folks are very different people. They are the guy who will never leave his guitar in the closet.

I still have my 1965 Ducati Scrambler.

A photographer must love travel, people and be a single six quick draw artist. My goal is to keep 2/3 of the shots I take with a rangefinder. I am my best competition.

Let me pour you a beer, and then suggest that you change your mind about quitting.
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Old 09-07-2019   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out to Lunch View Post
My two cents...motor bikes and photography, as such have as much in common as bicycles and fish.
Yep, I used to go on bicycle fishing all the time. Still very common where I'm from.
Have you seen couple on motorcycles thread here at RFF? World class photography.
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Old 09-07-2019   #22
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I've always viewed photography as simply a means to en and -- traveling and exploring, getting out, meeting people ect. I'm no collector. I think some folks get in trouble when the gear head takes over and the obsess over equipment, ect.
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Old 09-07-2019   #23
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Though I am two years younger than you I have chosen to go “full blast” back into photography when I retire in a year or so. I have been an active photographer since purchasing my first new Nikon F in July 1967, and my camera acquisitions closely follows yours. Along with the piano and guitar, a Camera has been a constant companion I’ll finally have time for.
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Old 09-07-2019   #24
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I am 64 and I don't think I will ever completely quit. I also shoot a lot. Usually every day. So probably over 100K frames a year but most of that is what I do for clients. If I ever completely retire professionally I will still probably do my personal work as long as my health hold out and as long as it still brings me a lot pleasure.
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Old 09-07-2019   #25
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I'm 77 and this first thing I did 20 years ago when I retired was to step up my photography game. I thought I was a decent photographer back then. But RFF and other sites have really made my photographic life richer. I've learned much in the last 20 years, and I hope to keep learning.
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Old 09-07-2019   #26
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Different people may have different interests in life.
Do whatever you enjoy doing.
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Old 09-07-2019   #27
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Yeah, understand the feeling. Just turned 70, and with the usual list of age related crap to deal with (but insomnia is the worst for me).
But, I did start late messing about with cameras, at about 20 years old. That’s late compared to some folks here who had darkrooms in there pre-teens.
To be honest I’ve slowed down considerably anyway and now get my kicks from building camera’s and hacking existing cameras.
Have become the quintessential grandpa, ‘puttering’ in the garage with my camera ‘toys’.

Another factor is that some here are quite good, both technically and artistically. That’s never been me. Was only attracted to mechanical cameras because they are such beautiful expressions of the designers art.
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Old 09-07-2019   #28
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Interests can change and you can still maintain a good, enjoyable life. I just hope to stay as intellectually engaged in life for as long as I can.
Interesting thread - thanks!
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Old 09-07-2019   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out to Lunch View Post
My two cents...motor bikes and photography, as such have as much in common as bicycles and fish.
If you are passionate about fish, and passionate about bicycles, then for you, the two have a lot in common, as both are your passions. And the loss of passion for something you are passionate about can possibly give you and others insights into the loss of passion for other things that you or they were passionate about.

OZMoose doesn't specifically state that he was passionate about photography, but from reading his history, it appears that might be the case. And as others have mentioned, and I wrote, at a certain point in life, things that have been our passions for decades, may lose their hold on us.

It's an analogy, I'm sorry it was lost on you.

Best,
-Tim
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Old 09-07-2019   #30
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Quote:
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My two cents...motor bikes and photography, as such have as much in common as bicycles and fish.
To me, that’s the antipathy of someone who's bitterness prevents them from finding any joy in the passions and joys of others. I avoid such people.

G
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Old 09-07-2019   #31
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Best wishes, ozmoose. Sounds like you have gotten a lot of satisfaction from photography over many years. It is good you will archive your work.

With the one camera you are thinking about, I suspect you will never cease being the photographer you are- more limited equipment wise, but you will still see like a photographer, and when you want you will put that vision into an image. You may have to put some conscious effort into not letting the one camera interfere too much!

My story is a little different. I started out like you. My dad was a high school photography teacher, and I started around 12. By 14 I had a Baby Rollei and a Zeiss SLR. I started doing a little semi-professional work in and through college, and thought I might turn my degree towards photography (chemical engineering), but did not pursue that strongly. Over time as I started my career, then family, photography was pushed more out of my life. But I never stopped seeing like a photographer, even with point and shoot cameras in my hand. Over the last several years I kept thinking that I needed to get back into photography- I missed it. When my dad passed a couple of years ago, I reset my thinking, and started coming back into it. My daughters are grown up, and I am moving towards retirement (still have a ways to go), but I am setting myself up to have an active hobby by the time I retire (and am enjoying it in the mean time).
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Old 09-07-2019   #32
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I think sorting out some of the 'stuff' we're surrounded with is a good idea.

My son is leaving home for uni next month and I've started a totally new career to mark this. I am trying to cut down on possessions, because they drag you down. I've sold a few guitars I don't use, a saxophone, old denim, some lenses, rare books, a couple of grand's worth of stuff, with hopefully my 52 Telecaster going next year. Our plan is also to clear out all our photos and collect them all as Bob Books. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, 30 years or 30 months from now, I don't want to leave anyone boxes and boxes of stuff to go through.

It's making me enjoy what I have left a lot more. I play my main guitar more now there's just one in the living room. I hope that by clearing out stuff, you'll enjoy what you have even more

And as got others' prescriptions on what we should like... I'm not going to go there. Life is too short.
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Old 09-07-2019   #33
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I have a friendd that is in his 70s and he bought a Leica Q last year after selling a lot of his gear like a Contax 645 and Hassy stuff.

I think you are arriving at a point where you don't see a point having too much stuff. Stuff weighs you down. I've often fantasized about condensing everything down to one suitcase. That is a practical impossibility, but one can dream. What really matters are the important things in life.

If you don't have any children then save the photographs that give you joy. The rest you can get rid of. People have fantasies about being famous after they are dead like Viviane Maier, but the reality is if you aren't already famous when you die, you ain't ever gonna be! So save what you like, what gives you joy, and declutter your life. You will be better off for it in the end.

And 72 isn't really that old anymore. You could live another 30 years....
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Old 09-07-2019   #34
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I like to think of these sorts of things as "rebooting the franchise"! Out with legacy baggage, and in with the freedom to discover things anew and be a beginner all over again.
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Old 09-07-2019   #35
Trask
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. I think you are arriving at a point where you don't see a point having too much stuff. Stuff weighs you down. I've often fantasized about condensing everything down to one suitcase. That is a practical impossibility, but one can dream. What really matters are the important things in life.
This discussion resonates with me. I’m 68, retired, and confronting what to do with my remaining years, which includes trying to keep my better half happy. For whatever reason, I find myself feeling weighed down, as PRJ put it, by the stuff I own. What my wife owns for her interests doesn’t bother me, but the fact that I have so many cameras I can’t decide half the time what to take on a trip is making me nuts. Example: I flew out with my son to Monterey, California for Car Week when some of the best cars in the world descend on the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach. In addition, we went to Laguna Seca Raceway to watch old F1 and other classics race — great fun. Three days before travel, I’m looking at this combination of SLR and lenses, or that RF and lenses, or a P/S, or a medium format RF, or or or...I think I really need to cut down so the focus is on making the photos, not on selecting the gear. Same goes for hifi — I’ve recently sold a Sonic Frontiers tube amp, a Nakamichi tuner/pre, a McCormack preamp, a classic Sansui TT, and so forth — too much gear weighing me down.

I won’t give up photography yet, one reason being that my memory may be slowing down, so having photos made over the next decade may help me, when I’m in my mid-80’s, remember what I did in my 70’s! As my mother is 96, lives alone, drives herself to town every week, my genes may dictate that I’ll be hanging around for a while, so “looking back 25 years to when I was 70” is a possibility.

I completely agree that OP should do whatever feels right — it’s your life, live it to make yourself happy.
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Old 09-07-2019   #36
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Interesting thread. I am 66 and retired last week from a career as a public information officer and will focus on photography for a while.

Got a degree in photojournalism many decades ago and was able to study some art photography under Garry Winograd, so I will be getting back into photography soon, with more time now than I had been during my “career” years. My wife also retired on the same date so we have travel plans for a variety of new places to photograph.

I am giving away or selling equipment I will not use, like others have commented above, and look forward to a more simple life.

It does not sound like a retirement from your photography, more like a reboot. Good luck.
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Old 09-07-2019   #37
zuiko85
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Don’t we all remember when we had one camera and one lens. (Fairly sure my experience is typical.)
I do, and was never happier with picture taking. At that time in my life, early 20’s and unmarried, was thrilled to have my first 35mm SLR, a Miranda D with a 50mm f1.9 Soligor. Didn’t feel the need for another lens until I kept running into things backing up, trying to get more in frame. That is when my friend and mentor said, ‘why don’t you get a wide angle?’

And thus it started.
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Old 09-07-2019   #38
pedaes
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Do whatever you want to do. Most advice would be to have an interest and get exercise - just enjoy and be happy. 72 is the new 50 - don't think short term.
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Old 09-07-2019   #39
ChrisPlatt
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It's probably heresy to suggest but if you ever get the itch to make photos again
you can always use your smartphone.

But think carefully before you sell/give away your gear.
Reacquiring your old kit could be costly!

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Old 09-07-2019   #40
Michael Markey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zuiko85 View Post
Don’t we all remember when we had one camera and one lens. (Fairly sure my experience is typical.)
I do, and was never happier with picture taking. At that time in my life, early 20’s and unmarried, was thrilled to have my first 35mm SLR, a Miranda D with a 50mm f1.9 Soligor. Didn’t feel the need for another lens until I kept running into things backing up, trying to get more in frame. That is when my friend and mentor said, ‘why don’t you get a wide angle?’

And thus it started.

So true …. for years I only had a 135 and a 50 and Kodak 64.
Still have the camera and lenses but as we all know Kodak 64 has long gone.
Happy days
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