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Retirement Through A Lens — With Photographer Marc Alter Thumbnail

Retirement Through A Lens — With Photographer Marc Alter


From time to time, I like to bring some of my clients onto the Retire Right podcast to talk a little bit about what their retired life is like, and how they’re thriving in their second act of life. I do this with the hopes of providing listeners some inspiration around what their retirement can be like if they too retire right.

In episode 54 of Retire Right, I was joined by my client and special guest, Marc Alter. Marc’s last full-time position was Vice President of Technology for Seal Dynamics, a multinational manufacturing and distribution business in the Aerospace industry, where he worked for 16 years. After retiring, Marc decided to pursue other interests, and now spends most of his time doing IT consulting, helping companies implement complex ERP systems, and helping them develop new policies and procedures. However, that’s not all Marc spends his retired life doing. He also has one ultimate hobby and passion — photography.

Today, I’ll be sharing a bit about Marc’s passion for photography and how it’s transformed his retirement lifestyle.


The Roots of Marc’s Photography Passion


Marc first got started with photography after learning from his dad, who gave him one of his old Argus C3 cameras. Marc and his father used to go out shooting together, and even shared their equipment and built their very own darkroom to develop photos. Over time, Marc found himself getting deeper and deeper into the photography world, and discovered that he had a real talent (and love) for the hobby.  

Over the years, Marc developed his skills as a photographer, learning the underlying foundations of photography, like the triangle (which is made up of three variables that determine the exposure of a photograph: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) and the rules of composition.        

Through his photography, Marc has won various awards through camera clubs and national contests, and has had his work published in newspapers and brochures. Lately, he’s also been getting some attention from local galleries who are starting to display his work. In January 2020, he will have a photo going up in the Toyota Ritz Theater in Oakdale — be sure to check it out if you’re in the area!


Transitioning Into Retirement With Photography


After working at Seal Dynamics for over 16 years, Marc knew he had enough money to decide whether he wanted to walk away from his job and do something else instead — and that’s exactly what he did. Marc decided to stop working full-time to spend more time on photography because it’s always been a passion of his and he has a real knack for it. Rather than waiting for the typical retirement age, Marc and I went through the planning process and realized that he’s got enough money — so why not follow his passion?

Marc’s wife, Jane, was shocked when he brought the idea of early retirement up, and was surprised that he had enough to retire. In fact, not only could Marc retire, but Marc also encouraged his wife to retire as well. It all worked out really well, and it couldn’t have been better for Marc in terms of timing because he’s still young enough that he can not only follow his passion with photography, but he and Jane can also still be active and enjoy activities like hiking, bike riding, and visits to the beach. Marc says there are a lot of other things they do, but the change in their lifestyle has tremendous, which, for me as a planner, is incredibly rewarding to hear.                

It’s also important to note that Marc isn’t doing photography for the money. He’s doing it for his own self-satisfaction and enjoyment. He says he likes people to be able to look at his work and admire the things he’s created. He’s now even teaching and helping other people on their own photography path, and is mentoring, teaching workshops, and giving lectures.


The Technical Side of Photography


With his photography, Marc mainly enjoys doing landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, wildlife, and impressionistic-types of work. According to Marc, the process starts with capturing the image. For him, that’s maybe 50 to 60 percent of the job. The rest of it is done in post- processing, which involves taking your images from your camera, putting them on a computer, and then using various software tools to fine-tune or manipulate the image until you get your final product. Using these softwares, there are also some elements of photos that you can manipulate, include the lighting, color, and more. As a former tech guy, Marc’s former career has also given him great skills in the digital side of photography, and has provided him with an in-depth understanding of technical parts like the camera, lens, filters, tripods, and various softwares.

When Marc shoots images, he usually goes out with a preconceived notion of what he’s trying to achieve that day in his mind. He may go to a certain place and hope that the weather is going to be dark, rainy, or cloudy to give him some mood in his images, and then he’ll go and capture them. Many times, Marc says he won’t work on the images until days, weeks, or even years later when he finally reviews them and feels a sense of what he wants to do with them. Then, he’ll pick one of the images and start working different layers and types of moods using his software to get it to match how he’s visualizing it in his mind. Sometimes while he’s working on something, a new type of inspiration will come out of the process and change the direction of the image from where he had originally intended it to go.                                


Photography and Retirement Planning


Hearing about the process Marc goes through to create his images reminded me a lot of the planning process we do here at Heller Wealth Management. Like Marc, we usually start working with a certain goal of what we want to accomplish in mind, and then we have to figure out a way of getting clients from where they are now to where they want to be — which is usually a place where they have peace of mind and are enjoying life.

As for Marc’s advice to others who might be interested in pursuing a passion in retirement, he says, if you have the money, do it. According to Marc, it’s been the best move of his life. He doesn’t wake up every day to rush out the door to work, but instead wakes up thinking about what he wants to do each day that’s oriented towards fun and following his passion.

If you’d like to see some of Marc’s work, please visit him on his website over at www.MFAImages.com