Photographer Dylan Collard champions diversity in Ages of Us exhibition

Dylan Collard created Ages of Us, an exhibition in which he documents how we change as we age.

Dylan Collard: photographer behind Ages of Us
Dylan Collard: photographer behind Ages of Us

The photographer took the same bench to 23 locations in California and asked people to sit on one of the three seats representing youth, middle and old age.

Following the exhibition, Teamspirit, a financial comms agency, invited Collard to bring the chairs to its offices to raise awareness of age diversity.

What was your inspiration for Ages of Us?

In 2015, I shot a series of portraits of mostly elderly volunteers. I was fascinated by what experiences had shaped these faces. Around that time, I worked in SE1 and walked my dog every evening.

Our route took us past a takeaway. There was a bench and I’d often see someone sitting waiting for their food with that "lost in thought" expression and it fascinated me.

Ages of Us by Dylan Collard

What was it like filming Ages of Us?

Incredible. I flew the seats to the US and had the frame made as I couldn’t find anything like it in the US. Shoots were quick as in public settings people get more self-conscious the longer they sit.

Who was the most interesting person you shot?

I loved the surfers who talked to us on Asilomar Beach and Weike Betten, a biophysicist who chatted about her hopes for a better future for everyone and her desire to have "a happy dog".

I was also blown away by a couple of teenagers who had deep ideas about how they didn’t want to waste their youth.

How did the tie-up with Teamspirit come about?

My agent suggested taking the bench on a "bench visit" into agencies. Teamspirit champions age diversity both within the agency and in its work with financial-service brands to understand and embrace the unique talents and experiences of people of all ages, so it was a great fit.

What is the best age?

Every stage of life has its joys, stresses and pressures, and we negotiate through them in different ways, with increasing experience and awareness. But I miss the naïvety of youth and the freedom of imagination that goes with that.

How can we best come to terms with the ageing process?

Age does not matter so follow the advice of Olivia Roberts (18), who warned that if you spend your life worrying about the future, "all of a sudden you’re gonna wake up and realise there’s nothing next and you wasted all your time worrying".

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