I am Julie Pallant, a mature age photography student, living near Bryon Bay in NSW, hoping to specialize in portraits and documentary photography. As a Psychologist, I am fascinated by people, their lives, and their stories. As a photographer, I hope I can use my images to share these stories with the world.
The aim of my project is to highlight the hidden epidemic of loneliness among our elderly citizens and to inspire viewers to reach out, connect and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their family members, friends and neighbors.
According to the World Health Organization an estimated 1 in 4 older people experience social isolation. Feelings of loneliness have been linked to reduced quality of life and adverse psychological and physical health outcomes. In our fast-paced society our elderly are often forgotten and ignored, isolated in their homes, hidden behind closed doors.
For this project I used a set of images to portray a day in the life of Gloria, my 88-year-old widowed neighbour, who is representative of so many of our elderly citizens who are facing each day alone, and lonely. I shot these emotionally evocative and poignant images, combining my perspectives as a psychologist, photographer, and friend. They offer the opportunity to see the world through Gloria’s eyes, bringing the viewer into the room with her as she goes about her day.
To communicate Gloria’s story I created a video slide show titled the “Age of Loneliness” featuring the images set to music. It includes the call to action for viewers to reach out to their elderly loved ones and to make their lives just a little less lonely.
In a world that often fixates on youth, this collection of composite images of some of our older citizens is intended as a reminder that behind every wrinkled facade lies a person with a lifetime of loves and losses, life experiences, challenges and adventures that have moulded them into the person they are today.
To create these images, I conducted interviews with some of the interesting characters that I have met since I shifted into a retirement village in Ballina, NSW. They shared stories of their lives as we looked through their archives of photos that recorded the important milestones. As a psychologist, I was intrigued by the amazing experiences that each of my subjects had gathered during their journey through life. As a photographer I was fascinated by the images taken at different ages and stages of their life.
For each of my subjects I created a composite image consisting of a portrait photo that I took, surrounded by scanned and processed images from their archive that were meaningful to them. Background images and overlays were used to add to the narrative and to create a single image telling the story of their lives. The framed images were featured in an exhibition titled “The Way we Were” and were given to the subjects as a gift, honoring their lives.
Sadly, a number of the people featured in this project have since died. Their families are grateful that they have this piece of art as a treasured memory of their loved one, available to the generations that follow.