German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen clearly gets the big picture. In his latest project, "Happy at 100," he snaps the faces of twelve 100-year-olds, reminding us age really is just a number.
His subjects have lived almost through the entire 20th century, they've survived two world wars, multiple economic crises, and have somehow made it out the other side still smiling.
The 48-year-old photographer's goal with this project was to have viewers look into their own future.
“The people had a chance to take a deep look into their own future, and they think they better deal with it in a positive way than in a negative way. Otherwise, they’re going to be depressed today and for the rest of their lives, and that’s very bad," Thormaehlen told the Japan Times.
Thormaehlen's similar series "Jahrhundertmensch" focuses on the tragedy centenarians have faced and survived.
“A lot of the centenarians have experienced war, or the death of someone close to them. There’s a commonality in all the centenarians I’ve met. Nobody is aggressive. They are friendly, and have wisdom. Some of them have a particular kind of sense of humor. It’s really fun to work with centenarians,” the photographer told the Japan Times.
Today, in Germany, more than 17,000 people have reached the magic number of 100. That's 500 times more than 50 years ago.
Thormaehlen has now released two books, even though publishers initially shied away from the subject.