Photography competition celebrates older people and aims to fight stereotypes

A photography competition aimed at combating negative stereotypes of the elderly is asking entrants to submit shots which show older people in a different light.

‘Old Frame New Picture’, which launched this week and runs until Friday November 13, invites competitors to submit photos celebrating the diversity of older people’s lives and their contributions to society.

Six lucky winners will have their pictures featured in a billboard campaign across Greater Manchester next year, as well as an online exhibition and in a set of printed postcards. Cash prizes are also up for grabs.

The competition was launched on International Day of Older Persons on October 1 and the best images will be used in marketing campaigns by local charities and other organisations, as a positive alternative to stereotyped images of older people.

Greater Manchester Older People’s Network member Pauline Smith, aged 72, from Bury, said: “Older people contribute greatly to society and their communities, whether they are still paid to work or if they are retired and are volunteering.

“Yet they are often presented in stereotyped way – with wrinkly hands, or doddering around on a stick or a Zimmer frame. Of course, some people need aids, but this lumps all older people together and it is not a fair representation.

“I hope this competition will produce a series of photographs that shows what older people are capable of, that we are still enjoying life and that we are active in so many ways.”

To take part entrants must submit a photograph of at least one person aged over 50, under one of six themes: Activism, Supporting my Community, Old and Proud, Friends and Family, Taking Part and Self-portraits, which can include selfies.

Judges of the competition include leading photographer Alex Rotas, who specialises in challenging ageing stereotypes through photography, Helen Wewiora, the director of Castlefield Gallery, BBC Radio Manchester presenter Mike Sweeney and Jai Chuhan, a visual artist and winner of the bOlder prize at the Manchester Open.

Ms Rotas said: “I’m delighted to support this potentially very powerful photography competition in any way I can.

“Yes, it’s an opportunity for the joyful celebration of the diversity of older lives. But more than that, underlying this diversity feels like an important and indeed necessary rebuke to the stultifying language of ageism.”

‘Old Frame New Picture’ is being organised by Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, MACC, a voluntary and community sector support organisation, and Greater Manchester Older People’s Network.

It is also receiving funding from the Arts Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Ambition for Ageing as part of a series of projects harnessing the arts and creativity to support Greater Manchester’s ambitions to be the best place in the UK to grow old.

Whilst the competition was planned prior to the pandemic, measures have been put in place to ensure safety. Entrants are encouraged to submit selfies, photos taken at a two-metre distance and photos taken before social distancing measures began. 

Further information on how to enter can be found on the MACC website.

“Elderly People Street Sign” by Ethan Prater is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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