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Autumn

Autumn

In her 1970 The Coming of Age, Simone de Beauvoir said, “Let us recognize ourselves in this old man or in that old woman. It must be done if we are to take upon ourselves the entirety of our human state.” She is challenging all of us to go beyond our culture’s present attitudes and treatment of its senior citizens, to shape our own futures by seeing ourselves in them.

I have been making portraits since the 1970s when I began photographing. Asking my subjects to stand in front of my camera to be “seen” and documented is hard, for them because they feel vulnerable and protective of that exposure, and for me because I’m basically shy about invading this privacy. Giving myself permission to take more than one session, if needed, for us to become comfortable has eased this pressure for me.

I have also turned the camera on myself. In 2010 I turned 70 and wanted to document that stage of my life. I photographed myself, my partner and both of us in our daily lives, turning the resulting images into an exhibit and book I entitled Time As We Know It. Surrounded by fascinating, vital and active seniors, I began taking portraits of them as well. I feel this project is presently my way of dealing with my own process: searching for clues of how others deal with the changes, taking pictures that show their vitality, spunk and humor, seeing that I’m not alone.

These portraits are of people I know, some well, others tangentially. They are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, with one in his 60s. They are living in a small area on the California coast northwest of San Francisco. Almost all are still involved in activities they’re passionate about; most still live in their own homes; some had interesting, successful careers; many raised families and are now raising grandchildren; some have passed; half of them are artists still creating.

Our youthful “Summer” bloom has moved into “Autumn,” for some more than others. We’re all having to adjust to the changes happening to our faces and bodies. A distillation of our life experiences has been gurgling away for years leaving a wisdom that now informs and guides us. We relish this wisdom as one of our gifts. Getting old is inevitable, but abandoning curiosity and a sense of wonder and humor is a choice. These qualities keep us young in our minds and hearts and fuel us daily to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 Bernie, b. 1946

Bernie, b. 1946

 Marj, b. 1932

Marj, b. 1932

 Mo, b. 1934 and Joe, b. 1935

Mo, b. 1934 and Joe, b. 1935

 Barry, b. 1947

Barry, b. 1947

 Deb, b. 1948

Deb, b. 1948

 Carla, b. 1941

Carla, b. 1941

 Murray, b. 1942

Murray, b. 1942

 Leslie, b. 1940

Leslie, b. 1940

 Andrew, b. 1923

Andrew, b. 1923

 Diana, b. 1944

Diana, b. 1944

 Sandy, b. 1924

Sandy, b. 1924

 Peggy, b. 1947

Peggy, b. 1947

 Ginny, b. 1924

Ginny, b. 1924

 Paul, b. 1951

Paul, b. 1951

 Ned, b. 1947

Ned, b. 1947

 Richard, b. 1932

Richard, b. 1932

 Laure, b. 1931

Laure, b. 1931

 Igor, b. 1929

Igor, b. 1929

 Van, b. 1949

Van, b. 1949

Autumn

In her 1970 The Coming of Age, Simone de Beauvoir said, “Let us recognize ourselves in this old man or in that old woman. It must be done if we are to take upon ourselves the entirety of our human state.” She is challenging all of us to go beyond our culture’s present attitudes and treatment of its senior citizens, to shape our own futures by seeing ourselves in them.

I have been making portraits since the 1970s when I began photographing. Asking my subjects to stand in front of my camera to be “seen” and documented is hard, for them because they feel vulnerable and protective of that exposure, and for me because I’m basically shy about invading this privacy. Giving myself permission to take more than one session, if needed, for us to become comfortable has eased this pressure for me.

I have also turned the camera on myself. In 2010 I turned 70 and wanted to document that stage of my life. I photographed myself, my partner and both of us in our daily lives, turning the resulting images into an exhibit and book I entitled Time As We Know It. Surrounded by fascinating, vital and active seniors, I began taking portraits of them as well. I feel this project is presently my way of dealing with my own process: searching for clues of how others deal with the changes, taking pictures that show their vitality, spunk and humor, seeing that I’m not alone.

These portraits are of people I know, some well, others tangentially. They are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, with one in his 60s. They are living in a small area on the California coast northwest of San Francisco. Almost all are still involved in activities they’re passionate about; most still live in their own homes; some had interesting, successful careers; many raised families and are now raising grandchildren; some have passed; half of them are artists still creating.

Our youthful “Summer” bloom has moved into “Autumn,” for some more than others. We’re all having to adjust to the changes happening to our faces and bodies. A distillation of our life experiences has been gurgling away for years leaving a wisdom that now informs and guides us. We relish this wisdom as one of our gifts. Getting old is inevitable, but abandoning curiosity and a sense of wonder and humor is a choice. These qualities keep us young in our minds and hearts and fuel us daily to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Bernie, b. 1946

Marj, b. 1932

Mo, b. 1934 and Joe, b. 1935

Barry, b. 1947

Deb, b. 1948

Carla, b. 1941

Murray, b. 1942

Leslie, b. 1940

Andrew, b. 1923

Diana, b. 1944

Sandy, b. 1924

Peggy, b. 1947

Ginny, b. 1924

Paul, b. 1951

Ned, b. 1947

Richard, b. 1932

Laure, b. 1931

Igor, b. 1929

Van, b. 1949

Autumn
 Bernie, b. 1946
 Marj, b. 1932
 Mo, b. 1934 and Joe, b. 1935
 Barry, b. 1947
 Deb, b. 1948
 Carla, b. 1941
 Murray, b. 1942
 Leslie, b. 1940
 Andrew, b. 1923
 Diana, b. 1944
 Sandy, b. 1924
 Peggy, b. 1947
 Ginny, b. 1924
 Paul, b. 1951
 Ned, b. 1947
 Richard, b. 1932
 Laure, b. 1931
 Igor, b. 1929
 Van, b. 1949