00:00 You’re listening to the live happier, longer podcast, episode 34.
00:15 Welcome to the live, happier, longer podcast. We’re your hosts, Molly watts and Angela McDade. We are here to help you build the habits of a happier, longer life starting now.
00:28 Hey Angela. Hey Molly, how are ya? I’m not too bad at all. How are you? I’m well thank you. So you are kind of the photographer. Yeah. I like to take pictures. Yup. Yup. You’re and you’ve got kids who are definitely. Yeah, Rebecca and Niamh are both really , they’re really good photographers, just something they just did in high school and just have, they have the eye for it, a good composition. Um, we’re doing something a little different today on our, on our podcast. talking to a photographer who we connected with and, and saw in his photos. Just some beautiful composition and stories. Yeah. The photographs themselves are just beautiful. And you know, the whole picture tells a thousand. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, um, it’s just lovely and he backs up this picture with, with the actual story behind it. So you, you, you make up. You’d one story looking at it, but then you get the real story behind it. And it’s so interesting. Yeah. And it was so was certainly interesting to us because of the subject matter. The project that he shot is called, or that he is shooting is called the “oldest state. Yeah. And it’s, uh, he’s doing it in Maine, uh, where he lives. And it’s because Maine is demographically the oldest state”. Yeah. Which was surprising to us, you learn something there. So here’s our conversation with Jason Smith.
01:58 Hey Jason. Hi Jason.
02:00 Hey, how are you guys?
02:01 Hey, we’re great. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today. We’re, we’re super excited. We just talked a little bit in our introduction about what you do, basically that, you know, you’re a photographer and a little bit about your project, “the oldest stat”e, but let’s dive a little deeper into that and really what sparked your interest where it started and just kind of give us a, uh, the backstory on this project. The oldest state,
02:30 uh, well it started, uh, probably it’s been about a year now. Uh, I started out, I live in Maine and a lot of people talk about Maine being the oldest state of demographically speaking. There’s a, uh, more people who are older living here than anywhere else. And um, and so a lot of times it’s kind of looked at as almost, I’m almost sort of a negative aspect of the state in some ways. And, and I just, I never really saw it that way. I always saw it as a great resource for information and for stories and, uh, for learning about different people. And every time I’ve gone out on different assignments or done different things around the state, I’ve always really enjoyed working with the people who are older and had really great life stories to tell.
03:19 Yeah, I think it’s, I mean, it’s amazing. I don’t think that everyone, I certainly wouldn’t have thought that Maine, you know, demographically would be an old state. I would think people, I mean, I kind of look at Maine as being, or my, my, I’ve never been to Maine just saying that. First off, I’ve never been there.
03:37 Come visit.
03:37 I want to, I’d love to
03:40 It’s a beautiful place.
03:41 I think that my perception of it is that it’s kind of rugged and there’s, the weather can be kind of harsh and I don’t know, it just, that’s my feel for it is that it’s a little more rugged. So I guess it doesn’t in my mindset, you know, when I think about older demographic, I think Arizona and Florida, that’s what I, that’s, that’s my perception. Yeah. People choose, choose to go live there. Yeah.
04:06 Most people do move. Yeah. Most people do. Think of, uh, of those states, those are the first states that usually pop in your mind when you think about people who are older and of retirement age. But, um, yeah, Maine and all those things are true. It’s a, it’s a rugged place, weather can be pretty unpredictable and tough sometimes, but, uh, the, the people who live here live here because they love it. Uh, they’ve been here, most of them have been here. It’s not their entire lives then, uh, most of their lives and really just enjoy what Maine has to offer. And I think it’s, it’s those people and, uh, those personalities that really make the state what it is.
04:49 Yeah. And it’s funny thinking about it as a negative thing. To me that would be a more positive thing. It’s like people do live along life up there, that’s, there must be something going on that makes life good, so. Right. Yeah. That’s kind of our people. That’s the people, you know, the, the, our, our focus is on aging with optimism and on building the habits of a longer, happier life. And we talk about these, these five daily actions and really they’re, they’re actions that we want people to take. You know, starting now, starting in mid life, starting whenever, but they’re all sustainable, um, throughout your whole life, into your 80s, your nineties, you know, as long as you live. And I think that what we found when we were looking at your project to the oldest state was some just vivid examples of our five daily actions and people that just have incorporated those lifestyle habits organically into their lives.
05:48 And so I want to talk about a few of those. Um, a few people that we, I mean, there was some just fantastic examples. We loved it. And, and you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna put the link to your website and all your social in our stuff, but we want to really encourage people to go check it out and see all your great work cause the portraits themselves. Yeah. So one of the stories that really captured us or you know, that we thought, okay, she’s just, you know, she’s just looks wonderful and fun and like a great example of living that happier, longer life was Ann Bradford who I think you said in your stuff you’ve got to take a hike with. Yeah. Yeah.
06:31 Short hike. Um, yeah, she, she’s an incredible person. She went, she lives out on Mount Desert Island. She’s, uh, pretty close to Acadia national park and she makes it her mission every year to climb to the top of each summit of the mountain in the park every, every year. And so that’s, that’s her goal. And she goes out and she hikes in groups with, with people she knows and has a good time. And, um, yeah, I mean, it’s a, I put a few of those
07:06 And she’s 82! And she’s still doing it!
07:11 She is, yeah. She’s incredible and one of the most positive people you’ll need and, uh, lots of energy and just a really fun person to be around. Really enjoyed working with her.
07:22 Yeah. And these hikes are not just a little stroll, they’re. They’re challenging enough.
07:28 Well, yeah, some of them are, are pretty technical, so, um, so it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s an impressive feat for sure. There’s not a lot of people who can say they do that every year and she’s done it consistently for, for several years now and plans on continuing and, you know, just, just getting the time to do all those hikes and having the weather cooperate enough that you’re able to do all that. And as far as, you know, not always easiest thing to do either, so.
07:52 Right. Super Cool. It’s just super cool. I mean, I love that. Like I said, I mean, so many of us, I mean, that’s 82. Come on, come on. You can’t, there’s no excuses. There’s no excuses. Um, yeah. Yeah. And another guy, I mean, this one I think was just like quintessential Maine to both of us. That was, and um, Andy, the Lobster man.
08:16 Yeah. Andy. Andy was a, Andy’s great. He’s been, um, he has been living on the same piece of property right on the water for a really long time. Uh, his, he’s been working those waters, I think he got his first fishing license when he was a really young boy and he’s been actually his first lobster license when he was a really young boy and he’s been doing it ever since. And he’s, um, he’s kind of an icon in the world of lobster men and even his house in Stonington is something that has been featured many times in paintings and postcards and calendars and things like that just because it, it just has that sort of iconic look. And to him, you know, he wasn’t setting out to, to make it look that way. That’s just how he lives his life. Um, and so, yeah, we had a really, really cool visit with him and he took us, even took us out on his, uh, his lobster boat for a little while. And, he’s an interesting guy.
09:26 Did you get to eat the lobster?
09:28 No, we didn’t have any lobster that day, but, but his, his boat’s pretty quick. They have, um, of lobster boat races up here. Oh Wow. For Fun. And he’s got his, uh, his boats pretty maxed out on engine power. It’s won the races plenty times.
09:49 Yeah. And he’s 88 and still out there doing his thing. Yeah.
09:54 Yeah, he was, he was still pulling, pulling traps and didn’t have a trouble navigating and
10:00 yeah. Yeah. I think he liked it. Like, to me, like I think if somebody had a lobster brand, I think I would want Andy as like my, you know, brand image. I think he just looks like the iconic, um, I dunno, the iconic Maine lobster, the whole thing. And um, yeah, just great . And I think the pictures that you took just really capture like, they’re just, there’s so much life going on in that mans face.
10:29 Yeah. Yeah. Had a great, great sense of humor and, uh, we got to spend some time with his wife as well. And she was great. She was really awesome. They had lots of stories to tell from years of, of living down there and doing that work.
10:48 Yeah. What I love about a lot of these stories that you’re telling with your photos and the, and the pictures and the, just with the people that you’ve met, is that just like you said, like Andy Wasn’t, you know, setting out to be an iconic figure of Maine lobster, you know, commerce. He but his life has just, I mean, he is, you know, he says how it’s gone and you, you shared a lot of people that are just, you know, I mean a grave digger, you know, they’re, they’re not, these are not like, um, celebrity type jobs, glamorous jobs. They’re living, they’re living their lives and they’re very, you know, I mean grape diggings hard work.
11:31 Oh yeah. That’s really hard. Yeah. I have a hard time just digging out a small hole in our backyard. Right. It’s, uh, there’s a lot of big rocks and things to contend with.
11:43 He was really proud of his work that I, I mean, absolutely. Yeah. He’s very invested.
11:48 He felt it a calling. Yeah.
11:50 Yeah. Just, just, you know, amazing. Amazing. So what do you, I mean, in all of this, in all of these stories and these people, you know, do you think, I mean, did you set out with the expectation of this happening and kind of like, or has it just been one of those things where it just keeps going and going and you’re enjoying it and you’re learning so much that just, you know, you can’t, you have to keep on going.
12:19 Yeah. Yeah. I certainly didn’t expect the, uh, the support that it’s gotten so far and, and just the kind of participation that the level of participation that’s happened, not just between me and other people I photographed, but people around the state who reached out to me when they see this stuff, to either tell me about somebody they know or sometimes just to thank me for, for doing what I’m doing and things like that really mean a lot when people take the time to, to reach out and say things like that. So I, yeah, I feel at this point I feel like I have to kind of keep going forward. I, um, not just because I think people are interested in seeing more of the project, but also because I’m interested in seeing and meeting more of, of the people out there in the state. I don’t know about yet. And a long list of people already that I’ve put together from recommendations that people have sent me. And um, and I hope that I get to chance to get out there and meet every one of them.
13:20 Yeah. So it does that. Is that kind of how it started? Was that people, you did some research or people that, you know, how did you, when you first started, how did you find people?
13:29 Uh, well, I first started out with just sort of an idea of people who were working in different, different veins of, of Maine, uh, different things that people did in Maine. And, and so I started out with the normal list of people you might expect a lobster industry and, and things like that. But, but it quickly went from just the stuff that you would expect to the stuff you wouldn’t expect. And, uh, and that’s when it, I thought it really got interesting for me because I realized that there was even more out there for me to explore and learn about them than I had first anticipated.
14:10 I’m betting grave digging wasn’t on your list.
14:13 Not in a million years. No. I would have never expected somebody to still be digging graves by hand. Uh, especially at an advanced age and you know, for so long. But that was know. It was really, really neat.
14:28 One of the things, I bet one of the things that I’m assuming maybe it was part of that initial investigation was mining, just cause I think that’s a part of Maine culture as well.
14:39 Actually, it wasn’t.
14:40 Oh really? Okay.
14:42 Oh actually what was that? Frank was a, that was another, there was another miner in the state who saw my work and recommended Frank to me. And so, uh, so I reached out to Frank and that set that up
14:57 well, yeah. And so that, that Frank’s story I know was, I mean there’s a lot of, frank had a lot, a lot of stuff going on and just, you know, beyond mining, but just, um, you know, his military history in that as well. I know you, you went and visited him and he shared his kind of, uh, as kind of a, a mini museum down in his basement.
15:22 Yeah, he really does. Um, you know, he has, he’s collected samples from a Maine that have made their way to different museums around the state. Uh, I think he even has some stuff on display and the Smithsonian in DC. Uh, but he also has, yeah, he has a smaller, uh, museum and his and his home. That’s really pretty elaborate. And he’s built all the shelving and, um, different systems for moving the rocks and minerals around to see them in different lights. And it was really neat to experience. And, um, so yeah, I brought my son Evan, who’s really interested in, and that sort of thing. I brought him with me to assist. He’s 13. I brought him in as an assistant on that shoot. And, uh, so I got to set up for the photo while I was listening to him and Evan talk and he was giving Evan a tour and walking through all the different things and those, it was a lot of fun to listen to, uh, to them talk and, and then, uh, yeah. And the really cool part was after our shoot, a Frank called me up and got my address and sent my son a really nice, uh, sample with a nice note in it so that, uh, he has something to remember the experience by. It was really touching, I didn’t ever anticipate something like that happening. And, um, and little things like that happen every once in awhile, these shoots and, and it’s, uh, it’s really neat.
16:59 It is. It’s incredibly touching and neat. And it’s also just reaffirms the fact that we have so much to learn from our, from our elder generations and our labs and our younger kids that, that connection and, and we really owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children to be around as long as we can because you know, that perspective that you can only gain. My, my dad just turned 91 this year and his, his legacy that he has given us and given me and given, you know, that all of us, because he’s been able to be here, um, you know, is incredible. And so it’s, uh, it’s really wonderful that, you know, that Frank, uh, was able to share that love of geology with Evan and, and just, you know, kind of, uh, he’ll remember that always, I’m sure.
17:57 Oh yeah. He has the, he has the mineral sitting on his shelf in his room with a, with a little note from Frank and, um, and, and it’s, and it just kind of goes on and on. Um, I, I photograph someone recently who was an engineering professor for a long time at the University of Maine and then, uh, is as part of the, the main logging a museum out here. And it was something I didn’t even know was here. Um, and I got the opportunity to go out there and learn about that and, um, I’ll be sure to take my family back there in the summer when it’s open and right, and show them more of, of what I’ve experienced and help them learn more about some of the things that I’ve seen through this project. And that’s really interesting.
18:47 Yeah. And it’s, you know, you, there’s so much you didn’t know you didn’t know when you go on these things. It just does. It must be just such a great experience to go and learn so much new stuff.
18:59 It really is.
19:01 Another one of the ladies that you spoke with. And another one who’s getting up there in years. She’s 88, I think it is. Uh, Gillian rose, who was, uh, the biker and she’s a biker and cross country skis. I mean both I think, but yeah, because sometimes the weather gets too bad, so if you can’t ride your bike, you might as well ski!.
19:23 That’s right. Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. She, um, her son actually owns a bike shop in Orono called Rose Bikes. And so I ended, we’ve bought a lot of bikes from, uh, from them for our kids over the years. And, and I didn’t know his mom was still riding and someone else I had photographed recommended I talk to talk to her about it and, uh, Orono’s, is a place that has a lot of really great mountain bike trails and a lot of good road trails and things like that that people ride. And, uh, and so when I reached out to her, I was, I was really surprised at just how much she rides during the summer. It was a, it was a really impressive amount of miles she had logged and, and, yeah. And during the winter when she can’t ride, she’s um, the ski trails and we have a lot of those around here too. So she’s just trying to stay as active as she can and do as much as she can. Yeah, it is, she was a lot fun.
20:27 It’s amazing. All right. Our daily action number one is move and um, we say it’s number one for a reason because it’s really the most important thing in terms of keeping your body and your, your mental health even at optimistic is, is continuing to move. And that doesn’t mean you have to chat log thousands of miles on your bike or cross country ski, but if you can, why not!. I know, right, exactly. And she’s just said, maybe it was just a fun, vibrant. Another vibrant example. And really I think that’s what we loved about all of these people was that, like I said, they’re kind of all great examples of what we talk about all the time and that’s really just keeping an attitude in a, an actionable plan for keeping your life longer and happier. Sure. So, I’m sure this isn’t on your docket because I know you’re kind of a Maine guy, but are there more states following, are there more stories to tell or you just, are you just going to stick to Maine?
21:29 Um, I am willing to tell stories anywhere, but Maine is, is definitely a place that has stories out there to be told yet. I could probably shoot one of these portraits once a week and never run out of stories to tell or people to photograph. Yeah. I really, I really think I could and um, and so that’s, that’s kind of what I’m doing right now at this what this project. But, but of course I’m also doing, uh, you know, other commercial work and editorial work as I go along so.
22:05 Well, and like I said, you are, you, you do other work for your photography business and with some pretty big publications that I think that we talked with you briefly before and now since that time you’ve actually decided and it’s coming together, you are going to put together “The oldest state” into a book.
22:25 I am. Yeah. Then that was, um, that was something I never really set out to do originally. That wasn’t really my plan either. Um, that was something that I’ve gotten a lot of people say they really liked this project and then they asked me what my plans are for it. And I say, well, I’m not really sure yet. And the more I’ve done it and the more people I’ve talked to, the more people just keep asking me to create a book for, for this project. And so, um, so I’ve, I’ve gotten together with some designers and gather the book at this point right now. Um, it, I’m selling, I’m pre selling it on my website as a way to kind of help generate some support for the project and all the books that people purchase ahead of time before it’s published. Will all get their own personalized signed copy sent to them before the, the books available to the public.
23:24 Nice. Yeah, that’s how I, that’s, I’m, I’m so happy that you did that. I’m, I think it’s going to be a fantastic, and like I said, all the portraits are just beautifully shot and they really do tell the story. And I love the fact that, you know, this is kind of the, the, the really good things happen and really good stories get told is, you know, you started with something, a seed, an idea, and an he had no real motivation other than to tell the story and take these photos and it just takes a life of its own. Right. And so now the interest has really, you know, and you’ve gotten so much good, positive feedback from people, um, that are really not only enjoying it because of the art itself, but learning from it. And I think that is just such a great, um, statement for what you’ve done. Yeah.
24:21 Yeah. It’s interesting because the, the project itself for me was, um, sort of a way to create connections between people that may not have already existed. Um, so, you know, for example, my way out to photograph frank created a connection with my son Evan, which then is now creating a connection with you and with whomever might be listening to this. And so, you know, these, these connections really do happen and are an interesting way and I’ll have a lot of people who see Rose, who knew Frank, who were, um, grew up, they were friends with his kids growing up and, and things like that. So, um, there’s, yeah, there’s a, a real level of connection that happens with these photos that I hadn’t anticipated. I’m really pleased with the way it’s,
25:16 yeah, for sure. A whole web of life going on there. I mean, cause we found you, I found you on social media. I found you on Instagram. And like I said, admittedly never been to Maine. And the, the Maine portion of it for, to me wasn’t what was drawing me in personally. But what was drawing me in was the stories of that older generation and just how, you know, these, these really wonderful stories of inspirational people. And so that’s kind of, you know, that’s universal, right? That’s not, I mean, that’s just whether it’s Maine or you know, who knows where. But I love the fact that it happens to be, you know, there, there’s a story behind that about the oldest Demographic, I mean the oldest demographic state. That’s cool. Um, and so, yeah, I mean, I can’t, I, I’m excited to see where this goes for you and you know, I hope that in some way we’re some small part of it, I think that that will be, um, you know, really rewarding for all of us. For sure. So again, your website is,
26:16 uh, JasonPaigesmith.com and that’s p a i g e
26:23 that’s Paige with an I and on Instagram,
26:26 uh, it’s just Jason Paige Smith on Instagram,
26:29 [inaudible] and anywhere else, Facebook, Twitter.
26:33 Uh, I am on Facebook for Jason Paige Smith also. Um, and I don’t use Twitter, so yeah.
26:43 Perfect. Well, like I said, we’ll put those links and the people and people can find a preorder for, uh, the oldest state on your website. And if they order it now, is there a date by that? They will get that signed copy.
26:58 Uh, I don’t have an actual ship date yet, but it should be. Um, my, my goal is, uh, by I believe July or August of the summer. So hopefully I’ll have everything out by then.
27:10 Awesome. And how much is it? Can I, can you, can you tell us?
27:13 A sure Yeah, the preorder is a, is $30.
27:16 Oh, okay. That’s a great, there you go. $30. Well worth it. Lovely. Like I said, and I think it’s going to be, I mean, a great story and we’ve just enjoyed learning more about it and sharing it with our audience as well.
27:30 Yeah, appreciate it.
27:32 All right Jason, have a fantastic weekend and we look forward to hearing from it and when you know when the book goes live, we’ll, we’ll definitely send it out the word again. Yeah. A little shout out.
27:43 Yeah. Thanks for your interest and support guys!
27:44 Awesome. Thanks so much. Thanks Jason. Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. Now it’s time to move, learn, share, give and let go. Five daily actions to make the rest of your life the best of your life. See you next week.
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