Photography for Seniors

This small part of my website is devoted to the needs of persons in their later years, who want to make good photographs. I first became aware of the problems of Senior photographers some 35 years ago, when my own father announced to me that he was taking pictures no longer. This was really sad, because my dad had taken pictures since the 1920s, and at the time he owned a Leica M3 and Leica Cl with several lenses, a Rolleiflex 2.8, a full LInhof 6X9 kit with 3 lenses and different film backs, and the ergonomic grip, and an assortment of flashes, bags, tripods, and other accessories. My dad was also the curator of his father’s cameras, dry plates, and negatives. We had the most complete darkroom in the entire county, if perhaps not the biggest, with the ability to print both black & white and color (slide and negative) pictures. My dad’s problemĀ  was that the cataracts which ran in his mother’s family were now affecting him.

Well, today, I too have cataracts developing at age 70. Today such a condition is simply an obstacle to work around, rather than the end of my photography. As I am navigating this time of life, I thought my experience and observations might be helpful to others. If what I write is interesting or helpful, let me know. If someone else is saying it better, let me know that too, so I can link this site to that one, and stop my own postings.

One of the first things to hit you as you age is that you don’t like to lug around all the gear that seemed so important, and so lightweight, when you were younger. To use my dad as an example again, look at his Linhof kit. Granted that the 6X9 was not a 4X5, but it was a real press camera, complete with fold-out lens board, bellows, ground glass back, and 3 interchangeable lens/board combinations, and focusing cams. Put all that in a substantial leather case, along with two rollfilm backs, several film holders, and add a Linhof tripod, a Braun potato-masher electronic flash with dry battery pack, and you were carrying some serious kit. He simply put them aside in favor of the M3, and later the CL, and their lenses and accessories, well before the cataracts came on the scene.

Current DSLRs of the same quality, outweight and out-size the M3 by a large amount. They aren’t the size of the Linhof, but they are bulkier and heavier that the Rollei. Add in a couple of high-quality zoom lenses and a proper matching flash, and things get heavy to carry for a couple of miles. I will NEVER tell anyone not to own and use a DSLR, but….. I use mine to shoot Division 1 college sports and other times I cannot do without the huge 24mg files of the D600. However, there are other shots I wan to take and a variety of lighter, smaller, gear produce results which are more than satisfactory. Such times are street photography when my E-M5 or GH3, or XPro-1 are unmatched, except by the Leica M240 which I can’t afford.