Missouri photographer, Anastasia Pottinger, has a project, Centenarians, that captures a subject that I feel strongly about. The subject is aging, and the idea of looking at bodies that have see a lot of living, and finding beauty in those bodies. In a culture where beauty is defined by 14-year-old faces, we are rarely offered the opportunity to look at real faces and real bodies as they age.
Anastasia has been working as a family photographer in Missouri, with a specialty in children’s and birth photography. She recently attended the Powerhouse Portfolio Reviews in New York.
Centenarians: This body of work was born out of the opportunity I had to photograph a 101 year old woman who volunteered, on her own accord, to model nude for me. It was merely an exercise in documenting her form in a beautiful way. My only instructions from her were to make sure she was not identifiable in the images. She was willing to do anything I asked of her.
When I later reviewed the images on my computer, I knew I was looking at something very special. It was when I began exhibiting the work that the idea to continue the series was born. The response to the images has been remarkable. Viewers are visibly moved by what they are looking at. Whether it’s wondering, “is this what I’m going to look like?” or remembering a loved one – the response seems to be universally emotional on some level.
The first question I get from everyone seems to be, “How did you get these models?” The first one came to me. The others have certainly been more difficult, although all of them have come to me through a known resource like a granddaughter or family friend.
Aside from the images themselves, the intersection of meeting my models and both of us taking that leap from chatting to making images of their bodies is where the excitement lies. It’s that moment and the mutual trust that comes from the experience that is evidenced in the intimacy of the images.
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