In 1982, these five pals — from left: John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney, John Molony and John Dickson – were vacationing at Copco Lake in northern California when this photo was taken.
They were 19, from Santa Barbara and had graduated from high school a year earlier. The five friends were spending a month during the summer at a cabin owned by Wardlaw’s grandparents. Using a 35-mm camera, they shot that first image and the rest is, well, history.
They returned to the lake — and that same bench — in 1987 and repeated the same shot.
“For some reason, we all chose to have dark and mysterious expressions on our faces,” Wardlaw told CNN. “I’m sure we all thought we were being really cool.”
In 1992, the stares and poses remained the same — though time had aged the five friends, they’d agreed to now don shirts and the jar had changed.
The crew in 1997. That year, they decided to make the photograph a tradition. Since then, they’ve headed to the lake — and the same bench — every five years to document their long-lasting friendship and celebrate the changes life and time have brought.
“I think I had a feeling this might become some cool tradition, but I had no idea we would still be doing it for 30 years,” Wardlaw told CNN.
Copco Lake, 2002. On a website chronicling the project, it reads: “Watch us lose hair and gain forehead; Gain and lose and gain and lose weight. There are reasons we all decided it was better to take the photo with our shirts on.”
The guys in 2007.
This image was taken this year. The men have taken seven images in 30 years. The framed photographs hang in frames on the cabin wall at Copco Lake.