Living in Three Centuries


The photographs for this portrait series were taken in various locations around the world between 1987 and 2005.

The Gerontology Research Group estimates there are 250,000 centenarians (people 100 years and older) currently living in the world. In rare instances, people live to 110 years and beyond, inspiring a new demographic label: supercentenarian. The Gerontology Research Group, through rigorous investigation of records, acknowledges about 65 supercentenarians, and estimates that about 350 are alive worldwide today.

The idea to photograph people who have lived in three centuries evolved over the course of the project. First, I was simply interested in taking portraits of people who appear worn beyond their years by living extraordinarily hard lives. Those experiences drew me to centenarians, and on to supercentenarians and their stories.

People consistently ask the same questions when viewing the portraits: How does a person live to be 114 years old? What do these long-lived people have in common that makes many of them look younger than people in their 90s, 80s and even 70s? The notes on aging is a short review of the current research on longevity.

The experience of talking with a 110 year-old man whose father stood next to Abraham Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address does not easily lend itself to words. A photograph seemed appropriate.

— Mark Story, September, 2005