22 Jan: Researching further images of the elderly

There seems to be much evidence of people who are or were in the public eye having their images taken particularly in later life.  Photographers obviously took pictures of those that were close to them.  However it is debatable as to whether or not a photographer is ever comfortable with having his own image taken.  Perhaps in most cases he feels more at ease behind, as opposed to being in front of the camera.

The following image was taken of Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) in later life.  She was married to the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) who worked to promote her work towards the end of his life.  She was an artist known for her work on flowers and natural forms at close range.

Geogia O'Keeffe - JL

I discovered the following image by the photographer Diana Markosian (b.1989). I found it particularly interesting  as it is in such sharp focus and she has not taken any steps to flatter the subject.  The wrinkled skin has been weathered by age and possibly hard work or living in a warm climate.  She is cooperative in having her image taken and obviously has a good relationship with Markosian.

Diana Markosian

Markosian has since gone on to produce a project entitled Inventing My Father, 2014. She spent 15 years looking for him after he had left the family.  The following image was taken from this project where they were reunited again.  It was also featured in a recent copy dated January 3/4 2015 of the FT Weekend Magazine.

Diana Markosian 2

There is obviously great emotion depicted in this scene although one feels as if it is so private between them, we should not be there too.

A similar sensitive and emotional piece of work was produced by Phillip Toledano, entitled, Days with my Father in 2010, taken over the last three years of his life. The following image was taken from this series and shows the great love he had for his father.

Phillip Toledano

Not all the images are sad, some also show the sense of fun the father had.  I decided not to include this as I had spent time looking at the work of Richard Avedon when he had also taken pictures of his father towards the end of his life.

Personally, I feel that it must have been extremely difficult for him to take some of the images, despite them being a lasting memory of him and perhaps how he was mentally has a bearing.  If his mental faculties were good and he was aware and cooperative, then it would have been easier to take the images. I would have like to do the same with my mother before she died, but as her dementia became more acute I would have felt that perhaps I was taking advantage when she was at her most vulnerable.  I did however take one (not one of my best!) of her eyes when she first went into the care home.  It shows the life very much present there and is now a very precious memento.

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