The Middle-Aged Woman and Photography Outings

stkilda-pier-longexposure-kiosk-melbourne

The Middle-Aged Woman and Photography Outings

Being a middle-aged woman comes with lots of different challenges and one of those is the photography outings. It isn’t the same as it was when I was in my 20’s. So much as changed.

This is going to be the second in a series of posts about being middle-aged, a woman and trying to be a photographer. Last week I talked about the invisibility factor. It was a fairly serious subject, but today I thought I might look at what it is like to go out to take photos.

The Middle-Aged Woman and Photography Outings

There is no doubt that going out as a woman in her 50’s is in some ways different to a woman in her 20’s. Okay, maybe it is just me. I know what sorts of things I would have done in my 20’s compared to now.

It isn’t all good, and some of it just sucks really. Getting old can be such a pain, I mean who asks for this stuff. There are so many things, well a few of them, that you have to consider when going out. Now these might not relate to other people my age, but

they are specific things that I’ve found.

They aren’t all good, actually, maybe some of them aren’t. They are more like things that I need or want when I go out.

St Kilda Pier 2

1 – Looking for Coffee while out

Without a doubt when I go out to take photos coffee has to be part of the plan. I would like to say good coffee but when you are out in the middle of nowhere you can’t always get it.

Some people are real coffee snobs, and you could call me one a little bit. Coffee can be coffee and I will accept what it is wherever I am. However, one thing that is really hard is how hot they make it. Nothing worse than a coffee that is too hot to drink. It was something I found a lot when I was in the US.

The perfect temperature is one that you can drink straight away, but not skull. You want to be able to enjoy it without it getting too cold quickly, or burning your tongue.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. It is nice to go somewhere where you know there will be somewhere for coffee and even lunch. Though now that I’m a vegetarian I’m finding the food thing another issue altogether.

victoria-harbour-boltebridge-night-melbourne
Victoria Harbour with the Bolte Bridge in the background.

2 – Toilets, bathrooms, lous, dunnies whatever you call them

Yeah, with all that coffee having access to public toilets if even more important. Something about getting older and the bladder not being that good.

Yeah, I know, TMI*.

It is true though. I have to confess that I know where nearly every public toilet is in the city of Melbourne. Though that is probably an exaggeration. I believe there is an app for your phone that will tell you where they are.

Shall we move onto the next one.

3 – Car parking near your subject

My gear is heavy, it is and I don’t want to carry it too far, so I like to be able to park near where I am going to take photos.

My days of hiking for kilometres is long gone. Now that probably has nothing to do with my age, but more to do with my fitness. Still, my back starts to ache if I have to walk too far with my gear.

If the car park is a bit of a distance if I can, I will just carry my camera and the other bits I need. Being lazy makes me think this way. I will blame it on that.

4 – Perfect Weather

Once upon a time I would have gone out no matter what the weather. Rain hail or shine.

Not anymore.

Time is important now and who wants to waste a day going out if it might be raining?

Though perfect weather doesn’t necessarily mean a beautiful day and in fact if there is a big blue sky, I stay home as well.

What are the perfect conditions for me, well, lots of clouds, but no rain? I think I prefer no sun as well. Though those conditions are getting harder to find. In summer it is impossible. So I have to try and make the most of those times when the weather is good.

hobart-sunrise-morning-harbour

5 – Middle-Aged Agility

Maybe I should have called this flexibility. In my head, I can still do the things I was doing in my twenties. Like jumping around everywhere. Being able to climb over big rocks and down them again.

You get what I mean, in my head I’m still like Superman. Nothing can stop me. Well, that is until I try to do something and everything goes stiff. I catch myself thinking I can jump off a rock and all I can feel is how much my knees will hurt if I do it.

Again this could be about fitness, who knows. Still, I feel like when I crouch down to take photos and it is a lot harder to get back up. The bones and joints creak. I hear them, I do. Really.

tenby-point-tree-water-canon5d4
Tenby Point

There are the main ones I can think of that affect my photography these days. Being a middle-aged woman and going out on photography outings does come with new challenges. What about you? Do you have others that I haven’t thought of?

I’m sure you don’t have to be just a woman to experience many of these. I know many men face some of these challenges as well.

*TMI – Too Much Information

67 Responses

  1. Leanne I can so relate to all of this I’m glad I’m not alone

  2. #5 for sure!! I’d like to know what happened to my knees!!!

  3. I love your honest posts Leanne. This one resonates deeply with me 🙂

  4. I only take photos (for now) with my Iphone 7 Plus…put my 35 mm to rest since digital is so much fun and affordable. But I do relate to the agility with my arthritis preventing me to hop scotch rocks near the rapids like I tried a few weeks ago. [sigh] I am 67 and am seriously trying to lose some weight to be kind to my knees [chuckles] I’m a coffee snob too and that is why I grind my coffee before making it and put it in a good thermos…I sip just a bit at a time so I don’t have to look for a washroom. As for the weather, it is just the very hot weather that may keep me in but at minus 30 C and icy streets, I have cleats on my boots and a pick at the end of my walking stick. By the way, 2 walking sticks looks cool now since trekking is à la mode 🙂 and it sure gets you out of bind. Rain is fine as well as I have good rainwear that will keep me dry for 10 hours or more and a clear case for my iphone. Now before I retire, I must get a decent digital camera…but not too heavy as that is not easy to get around with. Truly enjoyed your post!

    • A camera is a camera, I love taking photos with my phone as well. I’m lucky, so far no arthritis, but I’m sure it isn’t far away. Oh yes, the knees can be hell. Well I have a good coffee machine at home and I grind my own beans, but I try not to worry about it too much. Though i have a cup now that I take when I’m leaving the house in the morning. I can’t even comprehend that kind of cold weather. I like the idea of 2 walking sticks. Yeah, my problem is the type of photography I like to do doesn’t really like rain, water on the filters just ruins everything. I would recommend looking at a mirrorless if you want to go digital, they are great and not too heavy. Thank you.

    • Yes, a friend/colleague who is also a photographer suggests a mirrorless. I cannot see myself carrying something too heavy around my neck since I have severe disc disease but I learning to pack things strategically in a good ergonomic backpack

    • I think that is what is good about the mirrorless system, they aren’t really heavy and they do pretty much everything that a big DSLR does.

  5. Hi Leanne, I certainly can relate to all of that – except for the coffee and being a woman!
    I turned 71 last month and had a prostatectomy last year. I am glad that I travel with a caravan and tow a toilet behind me… Now I consider changing to a motorhome as the hooking up gets more difficult. In regards to the weight of the camera – I don’t think that’s the issue. For me it is the weight and bulk of the lenses. Another vote for the Olympus system.
    Love the photo of Tenby Point. Might try to find that spot as I am travelling in the area.

    • Oh I love that, travelling with a toilet, what a great idea. Caravans are lots of hard work. I haven’t looked at the Olympus system. I’ve heard people talking about them. I might have to take a look.

      Let me know if you want help finding Tenby Point. Thanks Erich.

  6. This post made me smile, well grimace and agree actually. This business of getting old and decrepit isn’t what I signed up for! I suspect that at some stage I will have to sell my Canon gear for something much lighter. Carrying the gear gets too much for my back too quickly, even just the camera and multi purpose Tamron lens. As time goes I can feel my fitness decrease, and that is sped along by my health issues.

    I suspect one of the reasons I like underwater photography so much is the weightlessness! You do find ways to manage and work around all this. Like you, I am not giving up photography… ever!

    • I love that, I didn’t sign up for it either. I have to admit the fact that mirrorless gear is available is really good. So glad we have that as an option. My back doesn’t like the heavy gear either.

      That makes so much sense about the underwater photography. You might have to start specialising in it. Thank you Chris.

  7. The older (and wiser?) I get, the more I appreciate safety as a mitigating factor. In my 20s I thumbed my nose at my mother’s admonitions to not hike the woods alone. Thankfully, I was never assaulted, raped or murdered but those horrifying prospects rein me in when it comes to a romp in the forest all by my lonesome.

    As always, your photos are stunning.

    • Good point Julie. I think you do become more careful about going out on your own. I think age makes you realise you aren’t invincible. Safety is very important. Though these days I worry less about my safety and more for people wanting to steal my gear. Thank you Julie.

  8. I can so relate to this, I went back and re-read your first post in this series. I just turned 60 and I shoot rock concerts (I’m still younger than most of the classic rock guys LOL). Normally I am the only woman in the pit or the women are much younger. I don’t get ignored, but I have been “man handled” a few times; not by photographers, but by audience members and would have to engage security. I do feel the age thing creeping in, bending down on my knees is difficult; especially the getting up part. I too look for more perfect weather and I also try to carry minimal gear. Weddings are the most difficult due to the hours I’m on my feet and the stress level of the, so I’ve really cut back on accepting weddings. Thank you for your insight, it makes me feel not so alone.

    • Wow, how amazing to do that sort of photography. It looks so interesting. Good that you don’t get ignored. Yeah, there is always going to come a time where the body starts to show it’s age. So glad the brain doesn’t. Weddings are not something I’ve ever really wanted to do. You’re welcome Deb, and and thank you.

  9. Honesty is often the best policy, I am enjoying this new chapter in your Blog Leanne.

  10. Nick

    I’m a 53yo guy who used to agree with some of what you’ve said.I’ve stopped drinking caffeine drinks as they used to go straight through me!! I started going to the gym for cardio and strength and started eating healthy once I realised age was slowing me down.I’m now fitter than I’ve been in about 25 years, so nowadays I can do things like easily hike in The Snowy Mountains for 3 days,go for day hikes in The Blue Mountains along steep tracks and go canyoning all with a fair bit of weight (camera,food,drink etc).The muscles,joints,agility,stamina etc have defo gone back to my younger days..haha.This is what has worked for me and I couldn’t be happier.

    • That’s great to hear Nick, good to see you got your agility back. I don’t want to give up my coffee, lol. I love it too much. Fitness is something I can work on, and I do want to. will get there eventually. Thanks for sharing Nick.

  11. Sue

    Ah, well, I converted to mirrorless a few years ago,, for the weight

  12. Welcome in my world and others world, Leanne. Thank you for sharing this with us. I get’s a bit tougher, yet what I experience is, that rethink real careful my gears to/ take with me, I visualize even more than before what I need for certain places I am planning to photograph. It’s not anymore , like ” oh I’ll take this and that with me , just in case….. ” . In a way I got to like this, taking precise decisions before I leave the house, it becomes more simplified , and that’s a good thing.

  13. Almost three decades further on than you everything you say rings true; public toilets have become rare in the UK so, eg, yesterday I crept into a Burger King, not an establishment I would normally visit, trying to be invisible – a troublesome prostate makes the age thing rather worse.
    I’m not a professional photographer so I’ve been able to downsize considerably and now as far as digital is concerned I carry only a Sony RX100 but my real love is film so even with a Contax AX I’m looking to park close, rarely possible, and the Mamiya Press can only have rare outings. Most of the time a tripod is impossible.
    Your photography doesn’t seem to have suffered though; lovely set of shots in your post.

    • Yes, I have heard that there are similar problems with public toilets in New York. Which is sad because then people pee in the streets and they just stink. So many things seem to get worse as you get older. Sadly.
      I think downsizing is something I am going to need to look at in the next few years. Tripods help a lot I find, well with what I do. The photography hasn’t suffered, but I know there are images I would like to get, but I won’t put my body through the pain to get them.
      Thank you grumptyke.

  14. I hear you, Leanne! I myself left my heavy camera behind two years ago, and I now use a Fuji. The main reason is the weight. As for the restrooms, the app for an Android is called — you guessed it — “Where is Public Toilet”!

    • I am thinking I will have to do the same Svetlana, I would like to convert to Fujifilm, but money is an issue right now. I want to do it for the weight as well. Yes, that app is brilliant. Thank you Svetlana.

  15. Well, Leanne, it gets worse – male or female. Wait ’til the doc’s put you on a diuretic. The importance of a toilet close by becomes even more critical. And as for scrambling over obstacles, this will become an impossibility. Creaky knees are one thing, and can be fixed surgically, but a loss of good balance makes it difficult to do anything but walk carefully along flat ground. Using a hiking stick makes a lot of sense. As you get older, you are not the only one that needs to be careful. If your partner is unwell, leaving them alone unattended while you are out capturing images is often out of the question making those long periods doing photography more difficult. And try leaving them in the car in the parking lot – NO!

    So cheer up – things could be worse.

    • I think at the rate my bladder works I probably won’t need any of those. I feel like I’m already on them at the time. Yeah, it is becoming harder for me to get around as much. I can still climb over rocks, but I have to be a lot more careful. Hiking sticks are fantastic. I have one, but I should get another one. They help a lot. So far Dave has been good, so that hasn’t been too bad. So far, but I am sure a time will come. Thank you Don.

  16. iancossart

    Hi Leanne, Another entertaining post by you along with beautiful photos as usual. I am 60 in 2 days time and I have to say, I can relate to all that you have said, lol. I had so much gear, all of it heavy and I used to be able to handle it, hiking all over here and overseas. I recently swapped all of my Canon Gear and opted for a Sony a9 and a7rIII system, my bag/pack and weight thereof has been halved and it has made so much difference. Mirrorless is definitely worth learning a new system when you consider the weight reduction. In short, the reduction in weight (for me at least) means I can be out photographing many many hours longer than what I would have been able to do, with my heavy dlsr gear. Ian

    • Thank you Ian, I really want to do more of these, they are fun. Happy birthday.
      I used to do the same with my gear, take it all, but my back jacked up. I carry far less now. Mirrorless systems are great, I love taking it with me to New Zealand, it was fantastic. You are right about the weight, so much better. It is something I’m definitely considering. For me it is about the money. But maybe …

  17. This made me laugh. I am a 69 yr old female photographer about to turn 70. I can still get up and down from the ground but sometimes I’m on all fours. I laugh at myself so if I’m going down I make sure I get more than one photo!! I think you have covered the full gamut. 😁😂🤣

    • Oh good Pam, I was hoping people would laugh when they read it. It isn’t pretty when I sit on the ground and then have to get back up, lol. Thank you so much, I’m sure there is more, I will have to start taking notes when I go out.

  18. Such beautiful images… i have to say being 2o years older, that I concur 😘🤗

  19. Hi, Leanne .. I won’t say just wait till you’re in your seventies, but all these things are just too true. (Substitute tea for coffee).
    Agility – mine has greatly improved since I took up Pilates classes. i would not have thought 40 minutes per week would make a difference, but it does.
    I also have to face facts, my eyesight’s not what it was.
    As a bird photographer, one tends to carry one’s lunch, and hopes to find something dry to sit on – and the first law of bird-watching is, never be separated from your lunch! and your supply of drinkable fluid.
    It’s odd, though – on days when the weather discouraged me from going out at all, I have often found interesting subjects – birds like the sheltered corners, and when it’s cold, they are often keener on feeding than flying away. Or you may see amazing storm effects.
    Anyway, try to stay keen!
    All the best, Anthea

    • Hi Anthea, lovely to hear from you.
      I’ve been trying to be more active and I’ve noticed that my agility has improved quite a bit as well. I can squat down better to take photos which I like.
      I think your first law of bird watching is a good one for all of us, never get separated.
      I think that is one thing about photographing birds that is good, if you have a good garden you can do it at home. Part of the reason I’ve been trying to grow flowers, so I can photograph them. I do love my macro photography.
      I can’t see myself not being keen, I just need to make some alterations so my age doesn’t affect me too much. You take care Anthea, and thank you.

  20. wonderfull photography

  21. Being old in body but young in mind doesn’t go well with agility, flexibility and the desire to get to somewhere for that perfect shot but I still have a go without any disasters yet 🙂

  22. Ditto but replace woman with man. The toilet bit was entertaining. I’ve just downloaded a toilet finder app. I am a coffee snob.

  23. cushla moorhead

    Definitely need the toilet stops far more often.

  24. Leanne, wait till you get in your 70s! You definitely want your car parked close to the trail head of you 3-mile flat round trip hike. You carry energy bars with you just in case. You try not to drink too much. You’ve figured out that taking one lens will give you a great shooting challenge. You use a waist pack for water, and any other essentials. You can’t handle any extra pressure on your shoulders or neck. You squat down, but make sure nobody is looking as you get up. It’s not pretty. But, you’re proud you can do it without help!

    Photography is still fun at any age, but I find it important to surround yourself with people of the same age and challenges. There will always be younger ones, but it’s great when they ask if they can help. My friend was talking about what age I’ll be when she retires. I’d be in my 80s and probably not shooting any longer she thought. I’m saying that if I can still walk and hold a camera, I’ll still be taking pictures!

    • Love it Anne, I wish you were closer so we could go out again. I can relate to quite a bit of this. I am up for hiking, but like the flat trips. Hate hills. I am learning that I need to start carrying a muesli bar or something like it with me when I go. I do try not to drink too much and leave that for after the trip. Don’t need any toilet stops out in the middle of nowhere. lol
      Funny about about the squatting, can totally relate to that.

      Yes, I have to say taking photos with people of similar age is really good. I think I will be the same as you, can’t imagine never taking photos.
      Thank you Anne, great to hear from you.

  25. Re: the weight of your gear. I recently bought a Sony A7 III for a project where I needed great video quality and low light capability in both still and video, as well as the resolution of a full frame. I absolutely know where you are with the weight issue. I only bought a couple of lenses, a prime 35mm and a 24-105 zoom. Already they are big and cumbersome. To get any kind of decent telephoto, I would have to spent thousands of dollars and carry around a lens the size of an oatmeal box. Until buying this camera, I had been using Olympus micro 4/3 cameras, Most recently the OMD E-M5. I love Olympus, and I think I may sell the Sony and switch back. I get great shots, suitable for poster size prints if I want to make them, and the cameras are small, light, and for travel, unobtrusive. I have a 300mm telephoto which is a 600mm equivalent on this sensor, and it is the size of a coke can. You may be attached to your big DSLR, but I encourage you to find and play with an Olympus. You might thank me.

    • Yeah, I have to admit the weight of the gear is definitely something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I find if I am out all day it does get heavy and I’m always looking for a time to put it down. Perhaps that is why I like having coffee when I’m out, I can take a load off. lol.
      I am looking at downsizing to maybe a Fujifilm. I don’t know anything about the Olympus cameras, but Fujifilm Australia have been great and loaned me gear on a couple of occasions. I think it is interesting what you have said about the Sony, sometimes these cameras are not exactly what we are looking for. Thank you David.

    • Don’t get me wrong, the Sony is a great camera! Just not what I need beyond that project.

    • I know what you mean David. I have the Nikon D850 and it is a monster of a camera, I do love it, but the weight, well. That is really the only reason I would consider selling it.

  26. Wait, it gets better. I will be 71, shoot wildlife so heavy gear, and work in swamps and marshes…subtropics. Everything hurts LOL.

    Get down low, ha! Gator bait for sure. I say all this because no matter what, we will keep going out there, shoot as we do, and find ways to compensate. We just work a little smarter.

    Something tells me you won’t settle for bingo.

    • I hear you Ted, I can feel your pain. Wildlife photography would have to be one of the hardest types of photography for the body.
      I love the reason you don’t get down low, brilliant. You are right, I won’t stop, but I have had to change a few things.

      No bingo for me, never.
      Thank you Ted.

  27. Truly beautiful photographs.

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