Isa Leshko, a photographer, has a fear of getting old. She was “forced to confront her own mortality” after caring for her Alzheimer’s-affected mother, but she had unique plans on how to do so. Leshko started going to agricultural sanctuaries all around the United States to take images of the old animals that resided there. But over the course of over a decade, the project’s emphasis moved from serving as a channel for Leshko’s concern to advocacy. She currently speaks for these species through her photos.
Allowed to Grow Old, the ensuing series, consists of muted black and white photos that show the animals in their natural environment. They present a respectable yet truthful view of the difficult life that these creatures have had. Buddy, a 28-year-old Appaloosa horse, is mostly crippled and blind, while Violet, a 12-year-old potbellied pig, is also arthritic. Although terrible, these tales are hardly original. Before being saved, “almost all of the farm animals I met for my project underwent awful cruelty and neglect,” Leshko says. Being in the company of a farm animal who has survived into old age is nothing short of a miracle.
Leshko’s attitude to photography her strong subjects is evident in the painful pictures, which show her admiration for them. It can take many days to establish a trusting connection with the creatures I shoot because rescued farm animals are frequently distrustful of strangers, the author adds. Before capturing even one photograph, I frequently spend many hours laying on the ground next to an animal. This enables me to be totally present while I get to know the animal and helps the animal adjust to my presence.