Meet Maryann Cheung, a photographer from Hillsborough, New England who I hope will inspire you today as she inspired me.
Maryann discovered her passion for photography later in life. At the age of 60, to be precise. She picked up her camera after a COVID scare and has been capturing beautiful images ever since. She shared some of them with us, along with her story that will remind us that it’s never too late to start doing something that makes you happy!
How it started
Let’s turn a bit further to the past: the year 1992 when Maryanne moved from Keene to Hillsborough. She and her husband opened a Chinese restaurant in town and owned it for 20 years before deciding to sell it. Even though it was doing great, Maryann said that it was time to move on. “Enough was enough,” she said in an interview with Concord Monitor. “It was lots of work and we felt we had nothing else to bring it.” Speaking of starting something new and reinventing yourself, right? I bet it wasn’t an easy choice after two decades, but it was definitely a brave one.
Fast forward to 2020, the year of the pandemic that seems never-ending at this point. Maryann’s husband contracted the coronavirus and spent five weeks in the hospital. He was surrounded by many other patients, some of whom later died. This was a sort of a wake-up call for Maryann to devote her time to something she’s long wanted to try.
“When something like that happens, you know life is short,” she said. “I thought that sounded like the right time to do it.” The right time to do what, you may wonder. Photography! You know, Maryanne had it on her mind for years but it never seemed to be “the right time.” Until 2020 when she finally decided to take it up.
Maryann’s father had given her a Minolta thirty years before, and she said that it was just sitting on her shelf for decades. “Now I use it and now I am a photographer. I wish dad had seen that.” She got a tripod from her husband, and now she, her camera and tripod go around the town, capturing all sorts of sights, people, and moments.
How it’s going
Despite starting later than many photographers, Maryann’s talent and dedication to her craft are evident in every photo she takes. From landscapes to portraits, Maryann has a natural eye for composition and light, bringing beauty and emotion to every image. While there are different scenes depicted in her work, to it seems that she’s drawn chiefly to people – and I’d say they are drawn to her as well. “When I am pulled over and I’m shooting, they beep their horns and wave to me and give me tips and they message me about themselves,” she said.
Despite only starting her photography journey two years ago, Maryann’s talent and passion have already earned her some accolades. Her work has been featured in local exhibitions, and Laurie Jutzi of Hillsborough nominated her for the Monitor’s Hometown Hero series. Her photos of the town’s 250th tribute this summer are included in the 88-page souvenir program book. Her work will also be displayed at the Hillsborough Historical Society, depicting various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I turned 34 earlier this month, and I often feel it’s too late to start anything significant now and reinvent myself. This is why I love stories like this. They remind us that, as long as you have the desire to learn and a lust for life, it’s never too late to step out of the box and your comfort zone and start something entirely new!