How to Grow Old

Yang Zhou

2012 - 2017

Shanghai Shi, China

Aging affects everyone, so my project is set to portray the elderly, and aims at attracting people’s attention to the aged in a society that emphasises so much on youth. By attention I mean not only cares about the physical health of the elderly, but awareness of their need to communicate and especially to give, since the elderly are a treasure trove of knowledge and experience.

How to Grow Old is an extract from the diverse facet of being old, shot in Shanghai, China's most "aged" city. Horrified and yet inspired by my personal experience of witnessing my grandparents growing old, I tried to explore the experience of aging by making these portraits and interviewing them about their feeling of getting old. There are people who are still pursuing their career passionately, as well as retired people living quiet but active lives. When the images of elderly people living miserably in poverty populate the media, I hope this project could give us some hope.

To me, this whole process is a remedy to my fear of old age; as for the people in this project, by participating in the event of photographing, they declared their longing to be paid attention to. In a sense, what we are not looking at here are not “them” but “us” in the future. This is the key to understand my purpose, since getting old is our doomed destiny (unless we die young), we’d better know something about it before hand. I sincerely hope that this project will make us think about how we'd like to be in old age.

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