I am professionally retired, which means whatever I do — like write or take pictures — is (by definition) a hobby.

“Professional” has a specific meaning. To be a professional anything, you have to earn money at it. The only thing I get paid for these days is not working, which means my profession is retirement.


Professional equals paycheck. This isn’t a judgment on the quality of anyone’s work, talent, or dedication. No matter how hard or well you labor, if you don’t get paid, you are not a professional.  I’ve had people argue with me about this, but I don’t care. There is a definition for professional. It isn’t a matter of opinion.

A professional is someone who gets paid to do that thing. Even if it’s only a little bit of money, if you never get paid anything, you can’t claim “professional” as your title. Mind you, there’s nothing demeaning about not being a professional. Especially in the arts, the finest creative work is often done by people who can’t earn a living at it. I’m pretty sure Van Gogh never sold a painting.


Creativity and professionalism are often at odds. I worked my whole life as a professional (commercial) writer. If I had not worked my whole life as a technical writer, I might have written something else. Like a novel or two. Would it have been great art?

Maybe. Maybe not. How would I know? It never happened.


You can’t write for a living and have anything left at the end of the day to create great works of fiction. You have to choose what you want to be … and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goal. I have a passion for writing, but I have a greater passion for a roof over my head and food on the table.

In the past, I got paid to be a writer. Now, writing is a favorite pastime or activity. A hobby. My standards are no less professional than ever. Just — no one pays me for my efforts. Pity. I could use the money.


Photography is and always has been, a hobby. I’ve been taking pictures nearly as long as I’ve been writing. Except for a very brief stab at wedding photography, it’s been a labor of love. Which translates to “unpaid.”

My foray into professional photography lasted exactly long enough to reinforce my belief that baby pictures and weddings were not my career path. But photography has proven to be the perfect hobby.


You never outgrow it. You are never too to take pictures. It’s never boring. You can spend a lot of money … or a little bit.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, the best equipment in the world will not guarantee excellent pictures, but a good eye will yield great photographs using minimal equipment.


Meanwhile, used and refurbished equipment offers a viable route to owning quality cameras and lenses on a tight budget.

So in retirement, my previous professional occupation — writing — has become a fun hobby. And my previous fun hobby — photography — is still a fun hobby.

I merely wish professional retirement paid better.

Categories: Arts, Cameras, Humor, Photography, Retirement, Sunrise

Tags: , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. Love that evilsquirrel13. Now that is an amusing way to look at it.


  2. I am striving to become a professional professional I will get paid to do work that I get paid for. This should double my income and allow for a much easier transition into professional retirement…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wouldn’t a person who is considered a professional at something not only get paid for it but earn enough to make a living from it?


    • How much is enough to make one a profession is a gray area. Many people feel that any amount of money makes one a pro. A buck or two will do it. On that basis, I’m definitely a professional author because I made nearly $50 from my book last year alone!


  4. You are an amazing writer and photographer. I agree…I will be retiring in a few years. I write as a hobby and first started counselling as a volunteer until I got my degree then got paid and was taken seriously. However, I do see myself counselling or doing outreach work in mental health as a volunteer when I retire…now I can do more than once a month but a few days a week. Great post…I agree with need more $$ …wonder if we can barter some services. I have a friend who is a translator and she barters often . Cannot say the airline but it helps her travel. hmm, maybe you could look into that.


    • Volunteer work ought to count more. It does, on a resume. Because anyone who has ever worked as a volunteer knows how hard it is. I was too sick when I stopped working to do much of anything except try not to die. I’m better now … but older, too, so my work is done. Good luck with the planning. Mostly, try to get all your bills paid off!


      • Well that is what I have done…I planned to be out of debt in two more years and I have just paid off my final bill this month. So even if I don`t have savings…I have no debts. Giving up my car last year helped a lot. Always a trade off. I rent one now and then instead and when I retire well…maybe the golden agers have cheap trips I can go on 😉


        • It sounds like you are a LOT better prepared than we were. But I was forced to retire by ill-health … and Garry was just forced to retire. So we were not prepared. We needed another five years.


          • Well most of my friends don’t think so. I lost all my savings but at least I can get by on old age pension (social security )


            • NOT being in debt is HUGE. We got retired with a big (NEW) mortgage having just bought the house less than a year before. By the time we stopped reeling, we had refinanced (just to keep from going under) several times and were (are) underwater. We could live pretty easily on our social security and a small pension Garry gets if we were not still buried in debt. You keep doing what you need to do and let other people think whatever they like. We ALL lost our savings … or at least most of the people I know.


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