To Live 10,000 Years is my attempt to photograph 2 people (1 man & 1 woman) in each of the 50 United States. All 100 people need to be at least 100 years old.
I road trip from state to state on a treasure hunt for centenarians showing up at local newspapers, churches, restaurants, chambers of commerce, assisted living facilities, anywhere… the project is a people meeting machine. I spend 1 or 2 days (as many as 7 so far) with each centenarian doing day-in-the-life photography and shoot some video.
We are all vulnerable and encounter different obstacles in life depending on our background and circumstances. The centenarians I meet doing To Live 10,000 Years display varying degrees of memory loss and other physical and functional limitations. I witness centenarians work to get up out of her chair, remember someone’s name, or make a point in conversation. Their perseverance, humor, or dismay does not highlight age as much as it reveals something specific about their nature. I try to be as specific and detailed as I can when photographing these moments.
Take note that a silver tsunami is upon us. In 2010, 35 million Americans were over 65 and by 2030, 80 million Americans will be over 65. That is an increase from 10 to 20% of the overall population. It is imperative that we decrease intergenerational estrangement and foster solutions to this extreme demographic challenge.
To Live 10,000 Years has been my focus for the last couple of years. The challenges we face with an aging population are made worse by a tendency to look away from our elders. I find the stories that defy generalizations about aging are infectious. I want us all to know our elders better and care for them in a way that they deserve.
When competed I imagine a gallery filled with the 100 resulting photographs of these centenarians. If I have done a good enough job portraying their spirit, then I hope the gallery visitors will each feel a little bit of what it would be like To Live 10,000 Years.