Snapshot: Peter Young Pursues His Passion in his Retirement

Ivy Marketing Group
Updated 8/7/2013 11:20 AM
  • Peter Young (shown here photographing The Chicago Botanic Gardens) has won numerous awards for his lifelong passion.

    Peter Young (shown here photographing The Chicago Botanic Gardens) has won numerous awards for his lifelong passion. Submitted

A Renaissance man is someone who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences. Friendship Village is the home of its very own talented yet humble Renaissance man. Pete Young, who began college studying nuclear physics and subsequently pursued a career in business, is an award-winning photographer who now has the time to enjoy his beloved hobby. "Photography has been my avocation which now in retirement, is my vocation," he said.

Pete first became interested in photography as a young teen when he received a gift of a Brownie Hawkeye camera. Aside from one high school photography class, Pete is self-taught. "I learn, and then challenge myself," he said. While Pete has always had a camera in hand, he realized early on that photography as a full time profession would not support his family, and so he pursued it only during his free time. Pete has won awards from the Chicago Botanic Garden's "Animal Architects Contest", Northbrook Library's Juried Exposition "Caught in the Act" and DuPage Art League's "Monthly Theme" Contests, and has been praised by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore.

Pete said that through the years he's shot extremely eclectic subject matter including open-heart surgery at Children's Memorial Hospital, the inner structure of the human ear, and movie star Vincent Price for the cover of a catalogue. In general, he prefers photographing nature and people and can't really narrow his favorite pictures to just one or two.

Pete believes that his scientific background gives him a bit of an edge with his work. "I have a proclivity to understand optics and exposure and lighting and other technical aspects that most people aren't interested in," he said.

Even more than the technical aspect of photography, Pete likes the personal facet of his craft. Always eager to snap pictures of willing subjects, Pete uses photography as a "vehicle to meet people." Furthermore, he said that he loves helping people "in their quest to take better pictures. It feeds my soul."

Given his interest in science, it's no surprise that Pete is fascinated with the modern technology relating to photography. He has enthusiastically embraced digital cameras and has attained the master level of using Photoshop.

Pete's wife Sue believes that his work has improved as he's matured. "I think it's so much better now. He's developed more. I think it's because the technical part is so ingrained in him now that he can focus on the artistic side. People come up to him all of the time and say that he really has captured his subject's personality. He has some sort of sixth sense," she said.

Last month, Steve Yenchek, Friendship Senior Options President and CEO, suggested that Pete conduct beginning photography courses for the associates at Friendship Village. "The associates work really hard and plan so many wonderful activities. I agreed it would be really good to have the best possible pictures of these events. "I'm happy to take pictures but I can't be at all 450 activities each month. I'm here to retire. I can't work like that," Pete said. It made sense for him to pass along some of his photography tips to associates so that they can record the events that he's not attending. His favorite piece of advice to amateur photographers is to "zoom in with your feet." Rather than using the automatic zoom feature on cameras, Pete likes for people to get up close.

Pete said that he is blessed with an eclectic and interesting life. "I never knew that life would take me in this direction. It's unfolding as life goes along. I take every day and enjoy it as it comes. I follow the opportunities; I follow my curiosity and I follow challenge," he said.

"Friendship Village is a good environment in which to be challenged and engaged," Pete said. "The opportunity for activities for all personalities is phenomenal. Not everyone is a photographer; not everyone is a Bridge player. There's such a multiplicity of personalities, each group is a community unto itself," he said.

Friendship Village is a leading Chicago continuing care retirement community offering a complete continuum of care including independent living garden homes and apartment homes, as well as assisted living, memory support, skilled care, and short- and long-term rehabilitation services. For more than 35 years, Friendship Village has been providing Chicago area seniors with exceptional retirement living options. For additional information visit