Photographer Isa Leshko, driven by her fear of aging, embarked on a unique journey to capture the essence of old age in farm animals. After caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s disease, Leshko found solace and purpose in photographing elderly animals at farm sanctuaries across the United States. Her project, which began as a personal exploration, evolved into a powerful advocacy tool for these creatures.
The resulting series, “Allowed to Grow Old,” features poignant black and white images of animals in their natural habitat. These dignified yet unflinching portraits offer a glimpse into the often challenging lives of these creatures. From Buddy, a 28-year-old blind Appaloosa horse with arthritis, to Violet, a 12-year-old largely paralyzed potbellied pig, each animal’s story is a testament to resilience and survival.
Leshko’s deep respect for her subjects is evident in her approach to photography. She often spends hours on the ground next to an animal, allowing them to become comfortable with her presence. This patience and empathy result in stunning photographs that capture the unique personalities and experiences of each animal.
“Allowed to Grow Old” is now a book featuring Leshko’s images and biographical information about the animals. It serves as a reminder of the beauty and dignity of aging, not only in humans but in all creatures.