'You Become Invisible:' NYC Photo Blogger Shares Stories of Senior Citizens - NBC New York

'You Become Invisible:' NYC Photo Blogger Shares Stories of Senior Citizens

"Being elderly, people look through you. You become invisible."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    This Photographer's Mission Is to Help Us 'See' NYC's Elderly

    Herb Bardavid's mission is to make the elderly in New York City feel seen, and to hear their stories. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Photo blogger Herb Bardavid, 75, aims to give voice to an often ignored population -- the elderly

    • Bardavid shares the stories of older New Yorkers through his photography blog “Getting Old and Getting out in New York City”

    • Bardavid has shared the life experiences of 65 New Yorkers, including Holocaust survivors

    Photo blogger Herb Bardavid, 75, is giving a voice to a population he says is often made to feel invisible -- the elderly.

    For the past three years, Bardavid has shared the stories of older New Yorkers through his photography blog “Getting Old and Getting out in New York City” -- think Humans of New York, but exclusively for senior citizens.

    “Living in Manhattan, being elderly, people look through you,” Bardavid said. “They don't want to see old... but [senior citizens] have a story, and their story is important.”

    Partially retired from his 30-year career as a social worker, Bardavid takes to the streets in his free time to meet, photograph and interview elderly folks about their experience “getting out” in Gotham.

    As Bardavid writes on his blog, New York can be a “frightening” place to navigate as one gets older -- cars zooming by, impatient pedestrians, uneven sidewalks and heavy doors are especially challenging for those with disabilities.

    Despite these difficulties, many of Bardavid’s interviewees told him New York is a great place to retire because all the amenities and activities they enjoy are in walking distance.

    “One woman said to me, 'I live alone, but when I go down to the street, I don't feel lonely,'” Bardavid said. “She felt like, ‘Here's the world, here's the city and there's things for me to do and people for me to be involved with.”

    Through his blog, Bardavid has shared the life experiences of 65 New Yorkers, including people who have escaped Nazi Germany, a survivor of the Japanese internment camps of World War II and a former member of The Left Banke, a 1960’s rock band best known for their hit song “Walk Away Renee.”

    Although Bardavid has been passionate about photography since childhood, he had never used social media or read a blog prior to starting his own, which presented a steep learning curve.

    “I initially resisted Instagram because I didn't feel like that was real photography,” Bardavid said. “I finally realized that things change and you gotta change with things as they move on.”

    After sharing his project with Patch.com, Bardavid earned a regular column on the news site, reaching readers across the globe. He aspires to build his audience, print a book filled with stories from the blog and exhibit his work at an art show.

    “I want to keep doing this because it's so much fun,” Bardavid said. “I'm just meeting people, hearing their stories and everyone has a story.”