A little over a year ago, photographer Danny Goldfield left his apartment in Brooklyn, hopped in a van and set out on a journey around the country.
His mission: meet 100 people in the U.S. who are more than 100 years old — one man and one woman in each of the 50 states — and take snapshots of lives a century in the making.
“I have this sensation that if I do a good enough job and capture the spirit of these people, you may get an idea of what it’s like to live 10,000 years. That’s how I think of it,” Goldfield, 48, told Metro.
He calls his project “To Live 10,000 Years.” When he’s done, he plans to publish a book.
Goldfield is taking his time. After a year’s worth of traveling from town to town from the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans, often completely at random, he’s taken photos of 26 centenarians in 16 states, he said.
Now the nomad’s travels have brought him to Massachusetts. While he’s here — staying in Lexington with his 85-year-old father, who is ill — Goldfield hopes he’ll find two from among the state’s oldest residents who will welcome him and his camera into their lives.
Goldfield prefers to find his subjects by chance: driving to a diner in Livingston, Montana, then asking around, or calling in on a whim to an AM radio station in northern California.
He crossed paths with this newspaper when he reached out to a Metro intern, asking for help.
When he settles on one centenarian, he said, he tries to get to know as much about them as he can, sometimes moving in with them for days at a time, following them to churches, sitting with them in gardens.
A feat most can’t claim, he’s asked a lot of people about what it means to look back on a century’s worth of life.
“One-hundred years is a long time,” Goldfield said. “That means over 36,500 times, they’ve gotten up and said, ‘Here we go again,’ and faced another day.”
He interviewed Inger, a 100-year-old woman from Wyoming who told him she helped hide Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Denmark. He photographed her with Nina, her niece and caretaker. They went to the hootenanny.
He met Edith, a 102-year-old “fashionista of the desert” who owned a boutique clothing store in California. He took pictures as Edith sat on her living room floor, thumbing through photos and news clippings, scattering them on the carpet.
He condenses these encounters into short captions on his website. Sometimes, he posts videos.
Goldfield has taken on big photo projects before. In 2012, he published a book of photos of New York City children from every country on the planet.
In that case, his subjects were picked first come, first served. But this time, he’s being selective.
“I want it to be 100 people at the end who represent a spectrum of different experiences,” he said.
Know someone over 100? Goldfield is accepting tips on his site.
You can help finance his journey by visiting his online store. He’s also offering production credit to those who send him $1. He hopes to recruit 10,000 donors.