The June, 2010 cover of The Gerontologist features one of my many images of aging. I have been photographing human aging for the past twenty years, and this magazine has been publishing my work as cover art since 1996. Links to more Gerontologist covers as well as other photos of aging are at on my photography website.
This photograph featuring Robert and Esther Wolf was taken in Venice Beach about two years ago at the Israel Levin Senior Center. Set among tattoo parlors and marijuana dispensaries, this center provides a social outlet for the dwindling population of aging Jews in the neighborhood.
When I met Robert and Esther, I was struck by their enthusiastic love for each other that was plainly apparent. They told me of their 70 year marriage, and their long life together as a couple. When I asked Robert the secret to their marriage, he told me “I sing her a love song every night, and a different love song every morning.”
We live in a society that marginalizes the elderly. Wrinkles and stooped gait, once emblems of dignity and wisdom, often elicit avoidance and disdain. Images of aging that present old people in a positive, healthful manner are indeed difficult to find. My images show a side of human life that our culture has conditioned us to turn away from, with the goal of challenging stereotypes and reformulating our perceptions of growing old.
For those of you who have the time to explore, my photo website has links to other photos of mine currently on the web, including past covers of The Gerontologist. Many images from my traveling show, “Aging Through a Physician’s Lens,” are also shown on this site. These images reflect not just the lives of the people I photograph, but give a mirror to my own life and travels.
Beautiful! Aging is a facet of life that our culture avoids, to our own detriment. Our seniors have much wisdom and guidance to offer, yet we put them away in nursing homes in a way that places them on the outskirts of our society. We have much to learn about how to treat other people, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.
Thank you for your work in bringing the beauty and grace of aging to light.
Thank you Anita for your kind words. Your observations regarding the marginalization of the elderly are true, and images of aging that are neither stereotypical or condescending are hard to find. That is why I publish my work. For more info on this topic please see my blog post entitled Ageism, the New York Times, and Geriatric Medicine.