13 side-by-side portraits of people over 100 with their younger selves

This article originally appeared on 12.08.17.


Centenarians — people 100 years or older — are a rarity. Their lives are often scrutinized as holding the key to aging.

Czech photographer Jan Langer's portrait series "Faces of Century" shows them in a different light: as human beings aged by years of experience, but at their deepest level, unchanged by the passing of time.

In the series, Langer juxtaposes his portraits with another portrait of the subject from decades earlier. He recreates the original pose and lighting as closely as he can — he wants us to see them not just as they are now, but how they have and haven't changed over time. That is the key to the series.


These are the rare faces of people who have lived through two world wars, a cavalcade of regimes, and the rush of advancements in modern life. These photos, and the stories of the lives lived by the people in them, show not only the beauty of aging, but how even as we age, we still remain essentially ourselves.

1. Prokop Vejdělek, at age 22 and 101

All photos by Jan Langer.

Vejdělek is a former metallurgical engineer who will never forget the taste of warm fresh goat's milk.

2. Bedřiška Köhlerová, at age 26 and 103

Originally born in Merano, Italy, Köhlerová wishes to visit Italy one more time.

3. Ludvík Chybík, at age 20 and 102

Chybík is a former postal carrier and says he will never forget the route he worked every day.

4. Vincenc Jetelina, at age 30 and 105

Jetelina spent eight years in prison after World War II. Now, he just wants to live the rest of his life in peace.

5. Marie Fejfarová, at age 101

Fejfarová burned all her material memories, including old photographs, when she decided to move to a long-term care facility. She lived a dramatic life, hiding from the Nazis and then the Russians, but eventually she was able to travel the world with her husband. Her experiences show there's no such thing as too late in life to start a new chapter.

6. Antonín Kovář, at age 25 and 102

Kovář is a former musician whose daughter comes to visit him every day. He wishes to play the clarinet once more.

7. Anna Vašinová, at age 22 and 102

Vašinová will always remember the day her husband was taken away by the Nazis. She wishes to be reunited with him after death.

8. Stanislav Spáčil, at age 17 and 102

Spáčil was an electrical engineer throughout his life and thinks that it's too early in his life to think about the past.

9. Anna Pochobradská, at age 30 and 100

Pochobradská was a farmer. She now lives a quiet life and is thankful that her daughter visits her every weekend.

10. Antonín Baldrman, at age 17 and 101

Baldrman was a clerk early in life and keeps up with current events by reading the newspaper.

11. Marie Burešová, at age 23 and 101

Burešová loves talking to her family and wishes to have them all together again.

12. Vlasta Čížková, at age 23 and 101

Čížková cooked in the dining room at the airport in the small village of Vodochody. She'll never forget reciting her own poetry at wedding ceremonies.

13. Ludmila Vysloužilová, at age 23 and 101

Vysloužilová stays active every day by chopping wood, shoveling snow, and doing work around her house.

The photographer Langer was initially inspired to document the lives of elderly people because of what he saw as the media's lack of coverage of them. He decided to focus on people over the age of 100 — a very rare demographic indeed. The 2010 U.S. Census reported only 53,364 centenarians, which is only 0.19% of the population of people 70 years or older.

“One should live every single moment according to their best knowledge and conscience because one day we will see clearly what has a real value," Langer says of what he learned from his subjects while photographing them.

The series was originally part of a story that Langer did for the Czech news outlet aktuálně.cz. You can see more photos from the portrait sessions by following the link.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

Keep Reading Show less

Since three coronavirus vaccines received emergency use authorization from the FDA early in 2021, the question of how to get a high percentage of the population vaccinated has haunted public health officials. As hospitals across the country fill with severely ill COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated, the question remains.

A funeral home in North Carolina is taking a unique tack in advocating for vaccinations, one that's striking and to-the-point.

A truck advertised as Wilmore Funeral Home drove around Bank of America Stadium before the Carolina Panthers football game in Charlotte over the weekend, and it had a simple message: "Don't get vaccinated."

Keep Reading Show less