Inspired by her own mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease and her grandmother’s experience with dementia, Philadelphia-based photographer Isa Leshko has created a stunning tribute to aging animals. She began the series of black and white portraits of horses, dogs, chickens, sheep, pigs, ducks, turkeys and goats after spending a year in New Jersey with her sister as they tended to their ailing mother.
“The experience had a profound impact on me and forced me to confront my own mortality,” Leshko said in a statement on her website about the project. The result: a profoundly moving series of portraits titled “Elderly Animals” and a poignant message for all of us about aging.
Leshko travelled to sanctuaries across the United States to photograph animals that were elderly or at the end of their lives.
Many of her subjects were raised on factory farms, she said. Others were “beloved pets” well cared for since they were young. She spent several hours with the animals and would even lay on the ground next to them before snapping a single frame. She also would make multiple visits to the various farms in her attempt to depict a “sense of intimacy” with the creatures.
“Some the animals in these images appear to be quite frail; others seem youthful despite their advanced ages,” she said.
While the project reflects her own fears about aging, Leshko said she also wants her portraits to “inspire greater empathy toward animals, particularly farm animals.”
She said farm animals often experience “brutality and death early in their lives.”
“By depicting the beauty and dignity of these creatures in their later years, I want to encourage people to question and challenge the way farm animals are currently treated,” Leshko said.
A film was also made by Walley Films about the project
h/t Huffington Post Photos Isa Leshko