Brighton bound, documentary photographer Zackary Cain, who is in his late thirties shares his thoughts on age, and shows us his beautiful pictures from Brighton Swimming Club.

Words by Zackary Cain. A photographer and musician based in Brighton. Loves walking, cycling and loves to spend his 'soft earned money' on ice cream. 


When you asked me if I think age is relevant to how I think about myself.... definitely. Generally speaking, here' the way I see it. You have your teens where you're concerned with your identity, tastes and interests which is often reflected in the band t-shirts or labels that you wear. Being noticed and being liked is a big thing and that's on top of all of that self-consciousness that you’ve got– yikes! Then, you get to your twenties and if you’re lucky enough to not be marching out to war - lest we forget - you’re out in the wilderness of work and careers searching for who you are, where you are going and what you are going to bring to the world. All the while, looking at how others before you have figured it all out.

"When I was a stupid kid I used to think older people were boring as hell. Now that I am older, I have been well and truly humbled! I only have to look at the portrait and face of David Sawyer that I was lucky enough to take, from the Brighton Swimming Club pictures to know that the man has more going on than what you would expect of a man his age, if you were to judge."

Zack Cain.

By Zack Cain.

Myself, I am now in my late thirties and haven’t yet done an inventory of what I’ve learnt, but I can say one thing, I care less and worry less about impressing other people.  I am sure that’s the coolness that you start to notice in the older generation that you hadn’t before. Ha!

When I was a stupid kid I used to think older people were boring as hell. Now that I am older, I have been well and truly humbled! I only have to look at these Brighton Swimming Club pictures. I was lucky enough to take this portrait of David Sawyer. In one glance you will know that this man has more going on than you would ever expect of a man his age.

"There’s so much to gain from spending time with anyone at any age and you would be a fool to think otherwise."

Zack Cain.

By Zack Cain.

I think it’s bothering me a lot that I haven’t planned in any way for getting older, in ways of security and that mystical and far away concept of getting a pension set up or property or anything like that…and perhaps the stress is not that I don’t have that set up but more the fact that I haven’t even given it a thought!

Clearly this is relevant to what we are talking about and yet, to the older generations this was hugely important. Post-war attitudes towards the work ethic as well as family security were strong and quite rightly so but now is a completely different time. I think of all of the market traders of East London for example. Think about how they were there working rain or shine, Summer through Winter, for years. Most likely, they started at 4am, working and saving for that little piece of success, a home outside of the city, with some greenery and no worries. And then, I think of their children and the kids they have and how a lot of those values just aren’t so important anymore and there are many reasons for that too.

"There are stories of achievement, humiliation, success, failure, in career life as well as matters of the heart. When you hear that from someone who’s older it can surprise you. When you hear it from younger people it somehow reassures you."

Zack Cain

Zack Cain.

Getting on the property ladder, yeah.... but without sounding cynical, it doesn’t take much work or toil to accept a donation or inheritance for a deposit on a place these days… but I digress!

I’ll tell you what, NOT caring as much about what people think of you, is definitely something that comes with age, as well as experience. And sure that’s age specific because young people have less and older people have more! The young are poorer in experience and the older are rich in it, no matter what the financial outcomes. THAT, is what makes me happy, because I myself have had a pretty colourful life, which Is finally starting to feel like it was almost worth it! I’m beginning to feel the value.

Zack Cain.

There’s so much to gain from spending time with anyone, at any age and you would be a fool to think otherwise. Like that old saying by, who was it now, Samuel Johnson?  “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”…which I don’t agree with at all by the way. However, I would go one further and replace the London with ‘people’. There are stories of achievement, humiliation, success, failure, in career life as well as matters of the heart. When you hear that from someone who’s older it can surprise you. When you hear it from younger people it somehow reassures you.

A society where our age does not define us would be great. Call me a cheesebag but its true. Don’t fight it. You can't.

If you liked the story above, we think you will also like these related stories from our In—Common library.

Guiness World Record holder Michelle Dubarry/Russell Alldread

We interviewed photographer Jess Desaulniers-Lea, leading up to our 'Age Does Not Matter' Festival (more)

A film about Leon

Leon Ward gained an interest in bowling while hanging around his local alley as (more)

The Aquadettes

The Aquadettes - a short documentary film on life, death, and synchronized swimming. (more)

Read more of our In-Common stories here