We normally fantasize about true love by looking at photographs of attractive couples who are young. We see young couples’ pictures of themselves and we want to have similar love lives as they do but what we don’t understand is that they are all temporary. We always search for someone attractive in our life but in reality, all we ever wanted was to grow old together by having that special some we spent our entire life with by our side. Even when we are very fragile, wrinkly and unable to even walk and to still have that spark glowing within your partners is what we all desire. But rarely do we see these elderly sensual photographs.
Arianne Clément is a photographer who wanted to show the realness of love. She wanted to push the spotlight from teens and twenties to the elderly to show that love is eternal. She wanted to show that with age, your attitude to life changes and teens and twenties can learn what real love is from them.
Arianne Clément’s photographs differ from older couples cuddling and to their beauty routines. She wanted to put a stop to the low standards that are showered on aging. Her photographs contradict the norm that seems to imply with age comes less desirability. No matter how old we get we still want to look good to ourselves (and others), we will still want to express love and want to be loved. These photographs capture a candid view into their private lives and reminding us that age is truly just a number.
As we spoke to Clément about her photography series, and these were her responses.
An encounter with a 102-year-old woman named Marie-Berthe was revelatory for you. Can you describe what happened and why you found it so enlightening?
When I photographed Marie-Berthe, I was amazed by her ease in front of the camera. She acted like she was a young glamorous actress who feels sexy and attractive even though she was 102. It’s rare to photograph someone as comfortable as she; and, considering her age, it was very inspiring. She showed me (and a lot of people by now) that beauty is a state of mind, an attitude, something that has nothing to do with age, but everything to do with confidence.
How did you find people to photograph for this project?
I found most of my models through social media. They were willing to participate in the project because they knew my work and understood what the project was about; they wanted to redefine the conventions around beauty and inspire other women.
What kind of trust did you have to build with them to allow them to be so vulnerable in front of your lens?
The vulnerability you are referring to came very naturally, possibly because of the nature of the project. I think I am a respectful woman and photographer and I like to create a safe space for my models. I never push them, I respect their boundaries and I don’t publish anything they’re not comfortable with.
Your portraits, in a sense, are a criticism of the narrow beauty standards that exist in our society today. Based on what you’ve learned from your subjects, how do you think our lives would be improved if we let go of these standards?
If only we could accept ourselves, our bodies, the way they are, we would save so much time and money! I don’t think anybody (but the beauty industry) takes advantage of the shame and stress surrounding appearance. It’s heartbreaking to think that many of us go through life worrying constantly about the way they look instead of focusing on fulfilling things. Life is too short. Everyone would benefit from more freedom, independence, self-love.
Why do you portray your models in black and white?
I have always been a black and white photographer. I started with analog photography at university, which I pretty much spent in the darkroom. It’s the way I learned photography; I look at lights, the shadows, and the contrast and barely notice the colors. I admire color photographers but I found my images to be more powerful when in black and white.
What do you hope people take away from your photographs?
I certainly hope that my photographs make people feel better about aging. I also hope that they raise awareness about certain challenges related to aging.
What are you working on now? Anything exciting you can tell us about?
I’m working on a project on the Blue Zones.
The Blue Zones are a concept that appeared in 2005 following a publication in the National Geographic Magazine, regarding regions in the world where there are the highest concentrations of very old people. The inhabitants of these regions share lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their exceptionally long life expectancy.
Demographers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain focused first on seniors in the Sardinia region, an island of Italy, then observed similar longevity in the elders living off the islands of Okinawa, Japan, and Ikaria, Greece, as well as on the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, and in the city Southern California from Loma Linda, United States. I went to the five zones and finished my travels in late December of 2019. I am now editing the photos and putting the story together and hoping to find publishers as well as places to exhibit the story.