Rankin has provided a tender set of images for a new campaign focusing on intimacy and sex in our later years.
The leading portrait photographer has collaborated with UK relationships charity Relate to provide the visuals for Let’s Talk The Joy of Later Life Sex, which aims to tackle the stigma around this unspoken subject.
Shooting five older couples and one woman in their most intimate settings, Rankin and Relate set out to show what sex and intimacy can mean in later life, in a way that hasn’t been attempted before. And the results appear nationwide from today.
Let’s Talk the Joy of Later Life Sex aims to challenge the notion that older people shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t want to have sex and be intimate.
This is an assumption borne out by the results of a poll undertaken by 3Gem market research, where two-thirds of over 65s (67%) say sex and intimacy for their age group is rarely (43%) or never (24%) represented in the media, compared with a fifth (20%) of 18 to 24-year-olds.
The majority (60%) of people aged over 65 aren’t comfortable talking openly to anyone about sex and intimacy, citing embarrassment as the top reason (66%).
Rankin, who took on the campaign pro-bono, says: “The simple fact is that we all need intimacy now more than ever – and age, of course, really is just a number.
“The greatness of love and affection – the very things we can’t stop writing books, films, and pop songs about – doesn’t need to change as we find our later years.
“This campaign sets out to break convention, and that’s what it did, both before and behind the camera.”
Rankin’s images feature a range of older people, from Daphne and Arthur who still hold hands when they walk, Andrew and Mark who have been together for 31 years, to Chrissie – who has had a double mastectomy – and her partner Roger.
Rankin’s subjects may be drawn from varying ethnicities, sizes, shapes and sexualities, but they all show that it’s fine to feel empowered to think and talk about sex and intimacy as we grow older.
The campaign champions the importance of sex and intimacy in later life, and explores everything from long-term love to new adventures, from tender intimacy to the more risqué.
Healthy relationships play a big part in our happiness levels, and the relationships charity Relate is there to provide support – whether you're facing difficulties, looking to strengthen your relationships, or just want help thinking things through.
Relate’s services include Sex Therapy and counselling for couples, individuals and families.
Relate sex therapist Gail Thorne said: “What we're trying to do today is open up a society-wide conversation about the fact that sex and intimacy – whatever that might mean – can be as important for older people as it is for anyone else.
“In reality, 'sex and intimacy in later life' means different things to different people: for some it's about exploring new and different sexual experiences, and for others it's simply about feeling able to express emotion through a gentle touch or kiss on the cheek.”
Visit Relate to find out about the services available, which include sex therapy and counselling for couples, individuals and families.