Saturday, August 10, 2013

Senior Citizen Portraits

When I was first learning about commercial portrait photography, I saw lots of references to "senior portraits" on the blogs of photographers I liked. At first I didn't realize they were talking about portrait sessions with high school seniors; I thought that they were referring to pictures of senior citizens. It's an assumption that makes sense, I think, when you realize that most of the time when you see references to seniors--the senior discount at the Kuntry Kitchen buffet, for example, or seniors' shopping day at the Piggly Wiggly--it does refer to those who are old enough for full membership in the AARP. Nobody who ever describes themselves as having a "senior moment" is likening themselves to an eighteen-year-old.

Well, I've never done a "senior portrait" session, but today I did a senior portrait session at an assisted living facility not too far from where I live. I hope I captured some images of these men and women at this stage in their lives that will mean something to their families for many years to come.

Here are some of my favorites from that session:

* * *

As I look at these portraits and reflect on my experiences at the assisted living home, I find myself a little melancholy. I know--it's just the way life works, even with all its beauty and wonder: people get old.

But there's something poignant about knowing that that woman up there, the last one in the sequence, however old she is now, was once this age:

And if she's anything like me, she sometimes finds it hard to believe she isn't still that age, that so many years have gone by without her realizing it, without her giving her permission.

She can't remember it, I'm sure, any more than any of us can, but not so long ago she was this age:

It goes by so fast, doesn't it? That beautifully-smiling lady is probably forty years older than me, so she surely knows it even better than I do. There are so many wonderful things about this life we human beings have, but sometimes it just seems so sad.

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