Career Shift: When Your Field Has Seen Better Days

When a pro photographer's income kept fading, she refocused and opened Mindful Transitions to help others deal with moving and downsizing

by Joanne Devereaux • Next Avenue
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Photograph: Photo courtesy of Lauren Keeley

“I’m done.” I had said it more than a few times. My 20-year career as a professional architectural photographer in Boston and Atlanta had been a long, slow fizzle.  
 
I’d been fortunate, though, to have a job doing something I love. Both my commercial work and artistic photography were interesting, enjoyable and — for a while — they paid well. I never had the name recognition of Annie Lebowitz, but I was happy to say I was a pro photographer.
 
Rethinking a Photography Career
The question, “What next?” had been in the back of my mind for some time as I endured the changes and diminishing income in my chosen profession. As a self-employed person with an entrepreneurial spirit, I wasn’t afraid of a challenge and, being in my 50s, I was too young to retire.
 
(MORE: How Women Can Reinvent Their Careers After 50)
 
My about-face career change finally became a reality last November when my business partner, Tina Chen, and I launched our San Francisco-based company, Mindful Transitions, to assist individuals and families with all aspects of residential moves, estate settlements, downsizing and relocations. (In her new book, Great Jobs for Everyone 50+, Next Avenue blogger Kerry Hannon recommends becoming a senior move manager to ride the “age wave.”)
 
My waning career as a photographer happened to coincide with my mother’s move into an assisted living facility in Pittsburgh. It was a challenging time. My brother, three sisters and I were scattered around the country and needed to coordinate this huge transition, which took more than a year.

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