Productivity in later stages of life is nothing new. A good book about it is Old Masters and Young Geniuses by David W. Galenson (Princeton University Press).
Yours Truly wrote about later-stage productivity in 2005. The passage below is culled from my book Advertising to Baby Boomers, selected as a Classroom Resource by The Advertising Educational Foundation:
When Baby Boomers were in their late teens through their early thirties there was an explosion of creative productivity in all fields. Now Boomers in their late forties and fifties, the ones who didn't quite "make it" or took safer paths, are finding out that their creative juices never dried up. Many of these folks are writing fiction and non-fiction, becoming graphic artists, photographers, and playing and composing music. Just as many are doing astonishingly creative things in the business world, often as entrepreneurs.
This isn't like retired people taking on hobbies. The Late Bloomer Boomer Movement is going full blast, and there's no stopping it.
Lately, it's become the zeitgeist of all generations over 50. Creative alliances are blossoming.
Marian Brickner is 76. Twenty-one years ago, she went through a typical miserable divorce and had to start anew. Marian struggled, finding only meaningless and poorly-paid jobs. Then she said to herself, 'I am going to become a professional photographer.'
She did. Ms. Brickner is now well-respected, published and considered the leading photographer of Bonobos -- our closest extant relatives. Her works are featured in National Geographic publications, academic textbooks, children's books and (no surprise) on sites like Pinterest. Along with Bonobos, Marian's photos of animals (especially dogs and cats), birds and insects are popular cyberspace virals.
When Primatologist/Author Frans de Waal (65) and his publisher W.W. Norton & Company were looking for a cover for his latest book The Bonobo and The Atheist, they had no problem agreeing on Ms. Brickner's "Boy in Red." Published in early 2013, it's now in paperback.
Through mutual friends and word-of-mouth, Marian was hooked up with documentary producers Tom Weinberg and Skip Blumberg (both in their sixties). Skip is a legend, one of the first videographers (we're all videographers now, what with Smartphones), producing documentaries beginning in the early 1970s. His work has been featured on Sesame Street, PBS, National Geographic TV, Showtime, Bravo, and Nickelodeon.
Tom and Skip asked Marian to anchor a documentary about Bonobos in The Jacksonville Zoo. Check out the two-minute trailer for Growing Up Bonobo.
I need to rest, rock a bit in my rocking chair after writing about all this exhilarating creative stuff going on. Maybe we should all chip in and get Marian, Tom, Frans and Skip some golf clubs and checkerboards.
If you happen to be at the Jacksonville Zoo around March 21st to the 24th (2014), you might bump into Marian. She's been invited by the Zoo to photograph a yet-to-be-born gorilla due in a few weeks.
That's what happens to artistic photographers eventually. They end up taking baby pictures.
All photographs (c) Marian Brickner and used with her permission.