50 interviews and portraits of 50 inspiring people. Some have struggled with the concept of turning 50. Most have taken life by the horns and given it a good shake! Be inspired…
As I was approaching my fiftieth birthday, I started a blog to try to make sense of it all. I mean, how could this have happened? I was 30 only a few years ago, with four small children, supple knees, even a waistline! How could my hair be turning grey, my eyesight blurring, my memory not be what it was? How could I be sleeping with a grandad, for goodness sake? Oh, yes – that’s right. It was because I was a grandmother.
The project50 blog led to me picking up a camera and making an unexpected career-swerve as I became a professional photographer, a learning curve that helped distract me from my empty nest. I found myself connecting with others for whom this life change had come as a shock and, gradually, I began to seek out those who saw it as an opportunity, for inspiration and advice.
The slideshow above is a compilation of 50 portraits of my interviewees (you can read the original interviews on the now dormant blog) I called the project 50 Facing 50 and published a limited edition book, bringing together the portraits and interviews:
I traveled the length and breadth of the country collecting these portraits. The participants fed me, put me up in their homes, shared confidences, hopes and laughter. It was a life-transforming experience for me, causing me to open up my heart and step into my own sixth decade with newfound confidence and anticipation.
Life can be good in your fifties and beyond!
Why do I think there is a need to spread this message? Well, think about the representation of our age group in the media. Many of us have the greatest disposable income of any age group, yet the ads aimed at us are primarily for incontinence pads, funeral plans and cruises. I for one don’t relate to that, and nor do those of you I talk to.
Those of you with whom I am currently working are vibrant, active, adventurous, humorous, confident, comfortable in your own skin. 50 does not look the same as it did in our parents’ day. I’ve been struck by the variety of experience I’ve encountered. There’s Sandra, who has changed her job so that she can help look after her grandchildren, and Elaine , the same age, who has a seven year old daughter. Kim is looking forward to early retirement while Deborah is about to set up a new business. There are mountain bikers and runners, gardeners and designers. Musicians and travellers, artists and photographers. Neil took up skiing at 50. Brian shipped his motorbike to Alaska and spent 8 months riding South to Argentina at 56. And the best of it is that these opportunities and choices are available to us now in in the twenty-first century. There is no cookie cutter template for being 50 any more. Anything goes.
One thing that we all have in common though is the tendency to pause around the time of our fiftieth birthday and reflect. Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going? Am I happy? If not, what am I going to do about it? For me, turning 50 saw the blossoming of a determination to start living life on my own terms, part of which involves trying to work and live both with integrity and enjoyment.
Unfortunately, this can also be a time to overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable, sometimes to fight ill health, and deal with emotional upheaval as life changes. We all need to be inspired sometimes.
That is what I hope this project will achieve. project50 is not just about me any more. It never really was. I want to show that we over fifties are a force to be reckoned with and to inspire those who are struggling to adapt to the life changes this period can bring.
The portraits show people being who they are and doing what they love. They show there is beauty in maturity. That there is a whole world of experience beyond the cult of Youth that currently dominates in our society.
If YOU would like to be photographed in this way, please do get in touch. These sessions are more than a photo-shoot, they are both a meditation and a celebration and very personal to you. I love facilitating them!