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Today we pay homage to human beings all over the world who have seen the world spin around on its axis for more days than many can even comprehend. They have laughed, cried, sang, danced, cursed and loved for a lifetime and more and it shows in their demeanor, their expressions, their actions and even in their inaction.
For this reason, elderly generations make superb photography subjects. They deserve to have their stories not only told, but shown. As photographers, we take the latter task upon ourselves and should attempt to capture the truest picture of these individuals that we can. Below we'll discuss a few brief tips for photographing the elderly and then we'll move on to our collection of 100 photos that we feel performed the task admirably.
"Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young." - Douglas MacArthur
Don't Be Afraid of Color
Your first instinct when processing a photograph of an older person may be to take it straight to black and white. It's definitely true that black and white photos of these sort can often display much more emotion and character than the original color image, but that doesn't mean there aren't cases where color can't play a major role in the composition.
As an example, consider the image above. Notice how the over-saturated colors reach out and grab you and provide reinforcement to the smiles on the faces of the people in the photo.
Surroundings Are Important
With elderly subjects it is often appropriate to communicate their relationship to the world around them. Whether that be peace, war, love or loneliness, try to communicate the essence of the person's daily experiences.
Again remember that you are not merely taking a photograph but telling a story. Tell it like you see it.
The photo above communicates an undeniable sense of loneliness. It may not be the most pleasant of subjects but there is a strong sense of truth to it.
Capture the Details
While the previous tip suggests pulling back and capturing the world around the subject, here I want to encourage you to zoom in and experiment with different untraditional crops.
Focusing on textures, materials, hands, feet, eyes, etc. really brings a unique sense of depth and emotion to the image. Notice how the cracked lens in the image above is a strong visual metaphor that adds a dose of drama and reality to the photo.
Humor is Acceptable
Never imagine that the people you're photographing have outlived their sense of humor. Showing the elderly being funny in either an intentional or unintentional manner doesn't have to be disrespectful, it can just be funny!
The image above is titled "hair raising experience" and gently pokes fun at the windswept nature of the two wonderfully bizarre people occupying the elevator.
100 Photos of the Older Generation
Share Your Photos!
We hope you found the images above to be inspiring and that they encourage you to visit your grandparents and other elderly people in your life to capture their stories.
Leave a comment below with a link to some photos you've taken depicting the lives and experiences of the elderly and tell us a little about the people in the photos.