The older folks are most definitely not hanging around the rocking chairs these days. Life expectancy has been extended greatly over the last 30 years. Those that are living longer are enjoying it more. This is a generation that started going to the gym in their 20's and have been on diets for forty years. They know about their hearts and blood pressure and what to do to stay healthy. These are the boomers. People born after the late 1940's.

The knees are a little weak and the breath a little short but that isn't keeping them from doing just about everything they ever did in the exercise department. They ski, their rides are big motorcycles, and they sail and surf. And they break more bones than any other segment of the population because of it.

They also go back to school, take up new careers and travel extensively and not always on a leisurely cruise. A sense of social responsibility left over from their lives in the 1960/70's causes the Boomers to seek eco-vacations or educational forays. And most of all you'll find them still working well past the classic retirement age of 65.

© Iofoto

This is a generation that has always had it their way. They seem to think that they can control time as well thanks to advances in cosmetic surgery.

If you have an attractive model in the age group 50-70 that is physically fit, you'll want to get them out doing what ever they do best: running, climbing, surfing or working out. Remember the standards of beauty don't just fly out the window when a man or woman reaches the golden years. If you want your images to land on websites geared to the boomers, don't go just for the "woe is me, I am old now" photo. The uncertainty of retirement age is a worthy subject but toss in the optimistic looks as well.

It used to be that the preferred images of retired people were models in their late 30's with white hair. But this generation isn't buying it. They still think they look great and many do. The use of young models used to depict boomers is patronizing to the "new" old.

All is not as advertised, however. The happy go lucky view that you want to show in your images also needs to address with the judicious use of props concerns about money, health care and other medical issues. These images don't need to be depressing but instead, serious.

Instead of the old folks at home with their adoring grandchildren at their feet, go for grandpa teaching his grandson how to fish or play soccer. In addition of a grandchild baking cookies with a traditional grandmother, have them outside working in the garden or another more active activity.

Tips: Everyone in the US gets a subscription to the print edition of this magazine at his or her fiftieth birthday-like it or not. It is a great research tool for shot ideas targeting the boomer and plus generations.
•Allstate has listed the top boomer retirement activities and the annual expenditures per person. Lists like these tell you where to put your efforts when that groovy grandma shows up for her close-up.
•Use age appropriate models but they still need to be attractive
•Family interaction shots are always needed
•One of the best selling images I ever handled was of an older couple on a park bench with the man kissing his wife on the cheek. Durability of relationships is a good concept for the boomer generation.

Photo credits: Brian Daly, Iofoto, Mary Katherine Wynn, Shannon Drawe.

Your comment must be written in English

June 03, 2007


nice article. Thanks for sharing

June 02, 2007


I had never heard of Baby Boomer until I queried the keyword "baby" that kept cropping up in pictures of people, especially women, who looked too old to still be having babies when there was no baby apparent in the picture.

May 27, 2007


If 50 is the new 30... then the white/grey hair has gone.. with foils and quality hair dyes so readily available.. even 'older' models don't look ancient... the baby boomer market is where the money is... :)

May 25, 2007


Sorry, I didn't make myself clear. And being of a certain age myself, there is nothing more ridiculous to me than a model who shows no signs of age beyond white hair being depicted as someone in their 50's/60's. What I meant by the standards of beauty is that when photographing this age group, use naturally interesting and healthy looking people. Editorial uses of sad and worn faces are very appropriate in certain uses but not to sell products and services to this "ageless" generation. Real people have been in demand for years as models but too real won't be used in advertising.

May 25, 2007


Informative article, Ellen.
However, the links on the photos link back to this page rather tham to the photo. Can someone fix this?

May 25, 2007


I agree with the previous comment. "Normal looking" people are becoming more and more interesting in advertisements. In France, where I live, there has been quite a big boom about this new phenomenon ! Advertisers weren't aware of that demand from customers...

May 24, 2007


Great article Ellen. I can relate to a lot of this! The only think I slightly disagree with, is the emphasis on "good looking". I would love to see a lot more "ordinary looking" people used in advertising. To me, "good looking" has become boring. An ordinary looking person who can project personality is much more likely to attract my attention, and in fact I am seeing that creeping into ads, certainly here in New Zealand. But then NZ is very advanced - we're always ahead of the rest of you:-) Linda

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