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The Fear of Aging As Expressed in Nude Self-Portraits in Abandoned Buildings {NSFW-ish}

By Hanssie on January 13th 2015

{Note: The following images contain nudity and are NSFWish}

I wouldn’t say that I was the definition of “aging gracefully.” I’m more of the kicking and screaming every step of the way, buy any and all potions I can get my hands on to delay the inevitable, clawing my way toward the fountain of youth. If there needs to be any nipping and tucking in my future, well, honey, you can count on it happening. There’s something about women aging in this culture, be it the influence of Hollywood and the fashion industry or perpetuated by the media, that strikes fear in the hearts of the majority of females nearing, at or around the age 30.


Since 2006, photographer Sarah R. Bloom has been exploring aging as part of her identity as a woman. Incorporating Urban Exploration photography in her series, Sarah goes into buildings that have been abandoned and poses nude for self portraits. 45-year-old Sarah looks for abandoned structures in and around Philadelphia and uses a tripod and a timer to capture her images.



Self-portraits have always been a form of expression for Sarah and the theme of entering middle-age became a persistent pattern in her work as she herself explored her struggles within that context.

It’s a really hard age to be, I’m discovering.You’re past the point of no return in a sense. I just look back a lot. I try not to but it’s just really easy to get stuck in feeling, ‘Oh my god, I’m running out time. And what have I done so far?”


The use of derelict buildings as her backdrop is intentional as she relates to the old buildings left behind to rot and forgotten. Trying to find acceptance in the aging process, Sarah feels sadness and fear when she takes these portraits and works out her personal demons in regards to self and aging in a society where the attitude of getting older is to lose value.

There is an adage that ‘age is but a number,’ and it’s a quote that I cling to as I, myself , struggle daily with the mindset that as I grow older, I will become obsolete. Being at a similar point in my life, seeing Sarah channeling her struggles into this photo series is eye-opening and inspirational. The struggles of coming to terms with the loss of youth are portrayed quite poignantly in the following images.

sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-2 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-3 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-4 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-5 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-6 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-7 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-9 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-10 sarah-bloom-urbex-aging-11

Sarah recently was featured in Wastelands Part 3, a series that examines urban exploration by following urban explorers around Philadelphia’s abandoned buildings.

Watch the video below and then check out Sarah R. Bloom’s website for more from her series.

[Via Daily Mail]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. desmond chislom


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  2. Winston Cooper

    The mature models I have shot, my boomer ladies, are of the network variety. The first one had a friend who wanted to try and this one had a friend and so on. My work is all TF prints with assurances they not go on the net. although one of them says she doesn’t mind if they are posted. The thread here is this is the only one that didn’t have children. Grown kids and self doubts about their beauty at this stage of their lives are the most common obstacles I run into when asking these ladies to pose for me. I do keep a print portfolio (11X14) and am allowed to show it to other potential models.

    Thanks for your interest Graham. I hope I am replying to your note in the correct way.

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  3. Winston Cooper

    I am a 70 yr old hobbyist “tog” whose main interest is shooting art nudes of what I call my boomer ladies, women in their 50’s and 60’s or more. Invariably I come across the feelings Sarah is expressing about aging from my models but surprisingly it seems to be all generated from within these women. It certainly doesn’t come from me and as near as I can tell from any of the close associates of these models. The most concerns I hear involve what time, circumstance and gravity have done to these ladies bodies….Heck, I think they look hot but I can rarely convince them of that.

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    • Graham Curran

      I’d love to hear more of your experiences Winston, not all of us have access to nubile youngsters.

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  4. Peter Paul

    Nice work of art. Although I find some of the places somewhat feels spooky.

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  5. David Hill

    Great places to shoot! Love to have something like that near me!

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  6. Peter Nord

    At the age of 75, married to a 75 year old woman, with 50 year old children, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for a 30 year old or a 45 year old worrying about getting older. I do hope her tetanus shots are up to date. Hard to imagine how many foreign bodies are imbedded in the bottom of her feet.

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    • Aidan Morgan

      It takes some guts to shed your clothes, especially when you’re confronting anxieties about age and the body. Kudos to Bloom for tackling her issues head-on.

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    • Aidan Morgan

      Whoops! That wasn’t meant as a reply to your comment.

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    • Jason Boa

      I can’t agree more , at 42 i’m just getting the hang of life and certainly don’t feel that I have to start photgraphing myself before I expire . I think the idea has merit but not convinced the images actually convey the ” message “

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    • Jason Boa

      I really don’t know that the images above have anything to do with exploring ageing not of the photographer anyway ? Maybe of some of the enviroments she is shooting in though ???

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