Carol Schuldt is a dynamic, strong, and fiercely independent 83-year-old woman.
As she goes about her unusual daily routines—clad in thrift store mini-skirts, colorful moth-eaten sweaters, and bright silk—some might say that Carol embodies the quirky, creative and iconoclastic spirit of her native San Francisco.
Carol’s brightly painted home and distinctive clothes stand out in the foggy, beachside Outer Sunset neighborhood where she has lived for more than 50 years. Known by many as the “Queen of the Beach,” she has long been a familiar and inspiring sight in her fast-changing city.
Carol’s weathered body (which has been through hip replacement surgery and several bouts with cancer) houses a youthful spirit that is energized and sustained by her intense connection to the sun and the ocean. Most days she rides her bicycle to the beach, where she bodysurfs naked in the frigid Pacific. When the beach is shrouded in “F-O-G” (a word she will not utter, but only spell), Carol jumps in her trinket-festooned pickup and races across the Golden Gate Bridge to skinny dip in a sun-dappled mountain spring.
For several years I have been photographing Carol, both at her home and on her daily adventures in nature. She is a fascinating character and, I believe, a potential inspiration to many—especially older adults who fear that age will slow them down.
—Jessica Eve Rattner
Editor’s Note: Rattner’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents! This year, Rattner was a finalist for the Arnold Newman prize and the Jacob Riis Award. You can follow her work on her personal website.