This Is What Happened When A Photographer Visited Three Nursing Homes In One Single Day

There is a quote that goes, ‘let your smile change the world. Don’t let the world change your smile’ and photography series, Smile Doesn’t Get Old, encompasses this saying wholeheartedly. Showing the broad, beaming smiles of nursing home residents, photographer, Ilya Nodia, proves that a smile never grows old.

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After he was approached by Company Senior Group to collaborate on a project about ‘the smile’ he visited three nursing homes over the course of a single day. The elderly residents were all excited about the change in schedule and the opportunity to show their creative artwork and dress up.

But the project has a serious undertone as all the people photographed have a serious illness. “It was clear that without constant and proper care it would be almost impossible for them,” Ilya explained when we caught up with him, “I didn’t think that there was such a service in Russia [as homes here are notoriously bad].”

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Together with retoucher, Irina Muravyova, Ilya has managed to create a poignant series which shouts of hope, joy and smiles in the face of ‘unhappy elderly’ stereotypes.

We caught up with commercial photographer, Ilya, to talk smiles and stereotypes.

The Plus: How did you feel about going into nursing homes initially?
IN:
Well, in fact, before we started the project, I (like many people) didn’t understand what awaited us inside. Nursing home stereotypes are very bad in Russia. Primarily because hospitals and social services in Russia have poor budgets and service is seen as disgusting.

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TP: What was your reception? Did you form bonds with the people you met?
IN:
To come to the nursing home was very exciting and I was very pleasantly surprised. But most importantly, that this shooting was a real treat for the elderly. They were incredibly excited about our arrival, telling us their stories, showing their creative work, talking about their children and what they do there.

TP: How would you sum up a ‘smile’?
IN:
More than 20 people :)

TP: Why did you decide on a mute, grey background?
IN:
The grey background has been selected by us from the beginning – firstly, it removes unnecessary details in the background and helps the viewer to concentrate on the essentials – the heroes of our project. Secondly, this is one of the most common styles of filming famous people and we wanted the subjects of the project to feel just as special.

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TP: Who was your favourite person to photograph and why?
IN:
We were certainly charmed by each person. But the most beautiful was a lady in a pink sweater. She’s gorgeous.

TP: Do you usually work together?
IN:
I often have across projects that I do not have time for post-processing or retouching own skills. Then we work with Irina like cool team.

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