“Photographer Tom Hussey used sets of two people aged 50 years apart
A collection of haunting photos offering an eye-opening perspective through the eyes of the aged who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease shows their extraordinary lives like never before.
A long-retired firefighter catches sight of himself in a living room mirror but instead of seeing greyed hair and softer skin, the striking reflection of a strapping young man stares back.
The image may be nothing new to the older man, but the sight isn’t one his wife seen seated behind him appears to see as well.
Former lives: A retired fire fighter, who’s actual photo is seen tucked in the mirror’s top left corner, gazes into his reflection that shows a strapping young fire fighter staring straight back
Youth’s elixir: Another man, seen stirring a cup of coffee, catches sight of himself in his days working in a lab, stirring the contents in a beaker
How we were: An elderly woman clutches a comb for her white hair while the dark-haired reflection of a young school teacher, a notebook and red apple in her arms, reflects back in her mirror
These are the photos taken by Dallas, Texas photographer Tom Hussey using sets of real people aged 40 to 50 years apart.
‘We cast two people for each part — an older “Patient” and then another actor to look like the patient 40 years earlier in their lifetime,’ Mr Hussey told the American Society of Media Photographers.
Yet the underlying message is much more painful as a reflection of a mentally debilitating disease five million men and women in the United States currently suffer from.
The photographs ran as an ad for an Alzheimer’s pharmaceutical patch – seen on many of the model’s arms – aiming to help those suffering from dementia, a disease that gradually strips its victims of its more recent memories.
Disease: The ads were taken for an Alzheimer¿s drug, a disease that gradually strips its victims of their newer memories, for some eventually leaving them with only those of their youth
Familiar faces: Approximately five million Americans suffer from the disease, that leaves many of its victims only remembering their past lives
Models: The collection was taken with the help of several sets of models that resembled one another despite being 40 to 50 years apart in age
For some people, they eventually only remember the memories of their youth.
Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning. The progressive nature of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, means that the symptoms will gradually get worse.
At the moment the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there are 800,000 people in the UK with dementia.
It was a WWII vet who inspired Mr Hussey’s collection that later won him a gold Addy and ran in the 2010 Communication Arts Photography Annual.
‘He commented that he didn’t understand how he could be 80-years-old as he felt he was still a young man. He just didn’t feel it was possible he could be 80-years-old,’ Mr Hussey told the ASMP of the war veteran.
He later built a bathroom set and photographed the man gazing at himself in the mirror, as a 25-year-old version of himself smiled back.
Inspiration: The collection’s idea came to Dallas photographer Tom Hussey after a conversation with an 80-year-old WWII veteran who expressed disbelief in his old age
Reflections: The profession the men and women were seen as being, a seamstress pictured, were chosen by their casting and location aspects of the ads
Rediscovered: A man uncovers his old welding mask and after turning to look in a nearby mirror sees himself with the mask strapped to his head as a younger man
‘We worked through the casting and location aspects of the ads helping to determine what profession the patient had been in their youth so we could portray that in the reflected image,’ he said of the photos’ creation. ‘This profession drove what room setting and propping needed to be created to complete the image.’
In result, a seamstress sees herself seated before a sewing machine. In another photo a welder holds his old mask while turning to see himself in his much younger years, the mask clipped securely around his head.
In some of the staged photos actual pictures of the models are seen tucked into the setting, showing them how they used to look, Mr Hussey said.
‘The images are all about history — remembering yourself in historical context. I think the history and memory aspects are very important to me and my interest in this helped make the campaign a success,’ Mr Hussey said.”
There’s something quite haunting and sad about the fact that most of the people are smiling in the mirror, or from the reflection. However, a few concerns have been raised that Alzheimers doesn’t just affect the elderly. Regardless, I think it’s a great project, and probably the best I’ve seen for an Alzheimers campaign.