A dozen years ago, at age 70, Marna Clarke had a dream. She was walking on a sidewalk and rounded a corner. Ahead of her, she saw an end to the path and nothing beyond.
It was a turning point for Clarke. “I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m nearer the end than the beginning,’” she said. Soon, she was seized by a desire to examine what she looked like at that time — and to document the results.
Clarke, a professional photographer decades before, picked up a camera and began capturing images of her face, hair, eyes, arms, legs, feet, hands, and torso. In many, she was undressed. “I was exploring the physical part of being older,” she told me.
It was a radical act: Older women are largely invisible in our culture, and honest and unsentimental portraits of their bodies are almost never seen.
Before long, Clarke, who lives in Inverness, California, turned her lens on her partner, Igor Sazevich, a painter and architect 11 years her senior, and began recording scenes of their life together. Eventually, she realized they were growing visibly older in these photographs. And she understood she was creating a multiyear portrait of aging.
Marna Clarke and Igor Sazevich decorated their home last Christmas, when he wasn’t feeling too sick. “Igor had an incredibly beautiful home a …