When life truly kicks off, it can be difficult to stay in touch with high school and college friends. Careers, families and other obligations often scatter people far from each other and contacts often wane over the years and decades. For five pals from Santa Barbara, California, however, this has never been the case. John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney, John Molony and John Dickson are lifelong friends who met in high school and have kept their friendship alive by gathering every five years to catch up and continue a tradition – recreating a photograph that has come to define their friendship.
Back in 1982 when they were all 19 years old, the quintet was on vacation near Copco Lake in Northern California, when they took a photo that would become a landmark of their youth. Soon after, the five friends pledged to meet at the Siskiyou Country reservoir every 5 years to get in front of the camera again, but more importantly, to have a reason to gather. Promising to do whatever it takes to make the meetings happen, they called it the Five Year Photo Project, and on the 24th of June, they met for the 8th installment in the series and their 2017 portrait.
The high school pals attempt to keep every picture as true to the original as possible, right down to the clothing. Their story first made news in 2007, went viral in 2012, with the public eagerly awaiting their 2017 gathering.
More info: The Five Year Photo Project
“In 1982 we took this rather odd photo. At the time we had no idea that 30 years later we would be reproducing it every five years.”
If you are wondering about the contents of the jar, here it is: one cockroach (alive), one photo of Robert Young (to keep the roach company) and one butterscotch candy (roach food).
“When we realized the same five guys were going to be at Copco together again we decided to take the same photo for the second time.”
“In 1992 the weather was cloudy and cold so the three Johns wore shirts for the first time.”
“At this point we had strayed a bit from the original photo, something we would start to correct in future photos.”
“This was the year we got back to truly duplicating the original though John M. forgot his sunglasses and we made a joke with the huge jar.”
“On this occasion, we returned to a duplicate of the original jar (with no roach) and standardized a hat for all future photos.”
“For this one, we even tracked down the original duplicate of the Robert Young photo to place in the jar. Sadly you can’t make out his face.”
“2017 Five Year Photo. Shirtless for the first time in 30 years.”