Jan Langer is a photographer who wanted to ask some important questions. He notes that in the modern day Czech Republic (or Czechia as it has become), that there are now over 1,400 centenarians – that is, people who have lived to the age of 100. He also says that in 50 years’ time there will be more than 14,000 people of a similar age in the country.
He wanted to see how such people are marked by the passage of time and how they remain the same. This striking series of portraits that he calls “The Faces of a Century” are the answer to those questions. They’re quite astonishing.
10. Marie Buresova
This is Marie Buersova. She was just 23 when her picture was first captured and it was on the day that she was married. At the age of 101, you can still see the young girl that was even if her features do seem to have somewhat hardened over time.
9. Antonin Kovar
This suave-looking young man is Antonin Kovar. His first image was taken at the age of 25 when he was the Bandmaster of His Own Band. His face seems to have softened a little over the years but it’s unmistakably the same person at the age of 102.
You’ll also be amazed at number 6 on our list.
8. Vlasta Cizkova
Vlasta Cizkova’s transformation over the years has been quite remarkable. You can still see traces of the 23-year-old, who had just finished high school when the image was captured, in the 101-year-old but they’re not as clear as with some of the other people Jan Langer involved in this project.
7. Antonin Baldrman
The teenager was a skilled locksmith and well respected in his town. Antonin Baldrman at 101 looks a long way removed from that young man. There are hints of the boy that was and the cut of the jaw is decidedly the same but time has very much taken its toll on his features.
6. Prokop Vejdelek
This dashing chap is Prokop Vejdelek and he was enlisting in the armed forces at the age of 22 when his first photo was taken. The 101-year-old version of him looks wiser and there seems to be a hint of mischief about him that was absent from the serious youth.
Wait until you see the change in number three on this list.
5. Anna Pochobradska
The 30-year-old Anna Pochobradska looks slightly stunned by life but her 100-year-old self looks far more comfortable. There’s no mistaking the similarity in their eyes but much of what shaped the younger version of Anna has been lost over the years. What do you think?
4. Bedriska Kohlerova
This lovely shot of Bedriska Kohlerova at the age of 26 was taken on her wedding day. The next photograph was taken 77 years later. The body language is unmistakably the same though and they are recognizably the same woman even at a quick glance. We wonder what advice she would give her younger self if given the opportunity?
3. Ludmila Vyslouzilova
The young Ludmila Vyslouzilova looks very serious and ready to get to grips with the world at the age of 23. Her older self looks more wary as though the world handed out a few surprises that she wasn’t quite prepared for. She also looks a little more gaunt.
2. Vincenc Jetelina
This first photo of Vincenc Jetelina was taken when he was 30 and had just finished building his first home. 75 years later, he’s grown a beard but his boyish good looks haven’t entirely evaporated in the centenarian. Maybe it’s the lack of a necktie in that second image which does it?
1. Stanislav Spacil
Young Stanislva Spacil had already adopted a trade when this image was captured. He was a skilled electrician. There’s not much of the youth left in his older self. Though the eyes are definitely still the same. He’s bulked up a bit and is it our imagination or have his ears grown larger?
It seems unlikely that many of us will live to see 100. Even today with better medicine, care, and medical technology it’s something of a rare exception.
However, it’s interesting to think about what we might look like should we reach our century. What lessons will show on our faces? How much of the youth within will remain there?
Jan Langer has answered those questions for his models and provoked a series of interesting questions regarding our own mortality. We hope that you enjoyed these images and the stories that they have to tell. If you did, please share this post with your friends on social media.