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Changing your career over 50: Lis shares her career reinvention journey

Article by Lis McDermott

lis changing career over 50 image


I keep meeting people who tell me that they are too old to change their career.  These are mostly ladies in their late 40’s to early 50’s.  They have a real passion for something, but think that it is too late for them to make changes and follow their dream.

I’m now 63, and changed my career at the age of 56.  For 34 years I worked in music education with a range of roles, finally as the Music Adviser for Wiltshire.  During those 34 years I had the most amazing and rewarding career, working with some lovely colleagues,  teachers and students.  I was able to share my passion for music with others, and also develop my own skills.  Life was good!

Why make a career change?

The political climate changed, and Literacy & Numeracy took over the majority of the curriculum at the expense of other subjects.  I was spending less and less time working with music, and more and more time going into schools as an assessment adviser.  This was not what I had gone into education for – the passion I had for my career was slowly but surely vanishing.

Around this time I bought my first digital camera, and started to gain another passion – people photography.  After talking to my husband about my ideas for becoming a photographer full-time, he supported me 100% and in 2008 I resigned from my education career. I sort out some training that gave me the professional skills I needed, and I was off on a new venture.

I am now in the seventh year of my business and going strong.  Many of the skills gained from my variety of educational roles, have transferred into my photography business – particularly organisational skills and being able to think ‘on the hoof’.  When I photograph women, a lot of them are very nervous about being in front of the camera, and this is where my people skills kick in.  I just love helping them to relax and gain the most from their photo shoot.  Last year I was very lucky to publish a book, which is about the importance of business portfolio images including lots of tips.

Lis McDermott headshot diva

Life is too short

That saying has been brought home to me several times this last year.  I lost a close friend to cancer at the age of 45 and a wedding client, suddenly at the age of 33.

If you have a passion for something and you have the support of those around you and your health, then go for it.  What have you got to lose?  We only travel this earth once, and better to have tried and failed than not to have tried and spend your time looking back with regret.

I am blessed with an amazing (2nd) husband, who I married on my 50th birthday, a great photography business, and a writing career in it’s infancy – I’m working on my second book, and have just had a short story published in an anthology.  Life is fab at whatever age if you are open to change, and you are passionate about life!

Lis McDermott is a photographer based in Wiltshire where she lives with her husband.  She has a passion for photographing people – capturing memories and emotions.  She is also an author and speaker.




Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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