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July 12, 2017

Every Five Years, These Five Men Take The Same Picture As A Tribute To Their Friendship Since 1982

Every five years since 1982, high school friends John Wardlaw, John Dickson, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony have taken the same photograph of themselves, in the same place - Copco Lake in California.

The original photograph was taken on a holiday the group took when they were teenagers at Wardlaw's family cabin, and every five years since, the group sit on the same bench, in the same order, by the same lake, while staying at the same cabin – they even make the same facial expressions and try and wear the same clothes.

“We never intended on doing it again,” said Wardlaw. “However, five years later we were all on vacation again at the cabin and I decided we should duplicate it.”

The friends realized it was a fun thing to do and in 1997, resolved to keep on recreating the photograph as long as they could. In 2012, the story went viral for the first time.

“I don’t think we realised how special our friendship was to keep going after 30 years, and now 35 years,” added Wardlaw.

The group have even made a pact to continue the Five Year Photo project after any of them pass away. Dickson would like his son to take a picture of the empty bench when the last of them goes.

The next photo will be taken in 2022, when the friends are likely to go viral again.


“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. This photo was taken on John Dickson's Pentax 35mm camera with a wide angle lens. Date was between July 4 - July 9.

*Contents of jar: One cockroach (live), 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. This photo was taken on John Wardlaw's Canon AE1 Program. We think the photo was taken June 19.”

*Technical Error. Wedges shoulder is not behind Marks and Dallas did not cross his legs.


“In 1992 the weather was cloudy and cold so shirts were worn on the three John's for the first time. Taken between June-6 and June-14 with John Wardlaw's Canon AE1 Program.”

*Here's the alternate version with sunglasses because of the lack of sun.


“At this point we had strayed a bit from the original photo, something we would start to correct in future photos. We also took the photo with our shirts off and decided no one wanted to see that. Taken between September 1 and September 5 on John Wardlaw's Nikon FM2.”

*Notice Dallas and John D on the right are smiling.


“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. Taken on June 8 with John Wardlaw's Canon AE1 Program on a cold day.”

* Notice that Dallas is smiling and someone forgot their sun glasses.


“On this occasion we returned to a duplicate of the original jar (No Roach) and standardized a hat for all future photos. Taken on September 8. The year is the first time we shot the photo using a digital camera John Wardlaw's Nikon D70.”


“On this occasion 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. Taken on June 26 on John Wardlaw's Nikon D800.”


“On this occasion we even replaced Robert Young with Matt Lauer using one of the photos we took of him on the Today Show in 2012. Taken on June 24, 2017 on John Wardlaw's Nikon D800.”

“This is the first time John, John and John have gone shirtless for the photo since 1987 (not counting the unused shirtless photo of 1997). Thanks to John Molony for suggesting it. We spent some time eating right and getting back into shape.”

(Images © John Wardlaw, via London Evening Standard)


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