A 22-year-old White Rock photographer has captured the raw emotion of the elderly in a photo-essay shot at the Peace Portal Lodge.
Braden Paul, who studied photography at Langara College in Vancouver, said he wanted to find a topic that was original and would give the viewer an emotional reaction.
He looked at his personal life for inspiration and found it in his 94-year-old grandfather.
“I wanted something that would really hit home to a lot of people,” said Paul. “I feel like the elderly are a piece of our society that sometimes gets put behind us and ignored.”
In March, Paul found out about Peace Portal Lodge from a friend who has family that resides there. After getting the green light from staff, the freelance photographer took his camera and started talking to residents about their lives and how they felt. Many expressed a sense of loneliness, often missing contact from their families.
“I think a lot of them came out with stuff that they don’t usually tell people,” said Paul.
Despite never being in a care home before, Paul said he walked away with a piece that really captured the emotions and interaction between residents and the nurses – and even a few new friends.
“A lot of them have Alzheimer’s and don’t remember from one day to the next, but some took notice and we talked and got to become friends,” Paul said.
After leaving the city to work in northern B.C. for the summer, Paul returned to the care home and was surprised at how many people remembered him.
“It’s crazy, I didn’t expect to be recognized and for me to come back and for them to remember me, that’s awesome,” Paul said.
Paul posted the video on his website (www.bradenpaulphotography.com) and has shown it to family and friends.
He has received lots of positive feedback for his work, but one person stood out the most to him. A week after taking the photos, one of the men Paul spent time with at the care home passed away. When he heard about it, Paul made sure the man’s wife saw the images.
“When she saw it, she was crying, thanking me and hugging me and that’s when I thought, if nothing else comes from this, then this made it all worthwhile,” said Paul.
“That’s the ultimate goal – to bring emotion to a picture. Sometimes it’s hard for people to see a picture and see it more than just a beautiful image, but an emotional idea.”