Hugo Cornellier has taken a selfie every day for the last nine years — since he was a 12-year-old living in Montreal. He recently put all the photos together into one time-lapse video that shows his transition from a boy to a 21-year-old man.
The video, made up of more than 2,500 photos, ends with a picture of Cornellier marrying his girlfriend, Juliana, and smiling. For a change.
Cornellier's inspiration came from watching a YouTube time-lapse video of pictures a man had taken of himself every day for some years.
"I watched that when I was 12 and I thought, if I start taking the photos right away, I can be the first teenager to do a time-lapse showing myself age into an adult."
Cornellier, who moved to Fredericton last December, didn't talk much about his project with his friends. They appear in some photos, but it was something he was doing on his own most of the time.
"It was never a huge deal," he said. "It was 30 seconds every day."
Cornellier had two alarms in his phone going off in the morning and at night to remind him to take the photos.
He would take the daily picture from his parents' laptop, so the first two years of photos are always of him in his house.
"But once I got a laptop, there are more locations in the background."
All of the pictures are backed up in multiple locations and most were taken with an iMac laptop. Just a few were taken with an iPad while Cornellier was in Cuba.
"Wherever I went I made sure I had a way to take the photo," he said.
But Cornellier admitted there were days when he forgot to take the selfie. He said in nine years, he's probably missed about 100 days.
No smiles but one
He decided from the first day he wouldn't smile for the pictures and kept a serious face until the very last photo of the video, where he smiles on his wedding day.
"I wanted a neutral view into my life, no emotional changes but rather physical changes in my face and show how it ages over time," he said.
A year ago, when he got engaged, he figured he'd take the final photo with a smile.
"This makes the final shot extra interesting," said Cornellier.
First time viral
In 2014, Cornellier made a time-lapse video with the pictures he'd taken the first seven years of his project and it went viral.
"One news site posted me and some other site picked up from it, and it spread everywhere."
The video got five million views. All of Cornellier's other YouTube videos had only reached 50,000 views.
He said he never expected people to get so interested in his project, but he likes the support.
Before releasing the first 2014 video, Cornellier had to stabilize every single photo in Photoshop.
He did the same thing for all the pictures he took after that video, until this year.
A lot of hours to produce
Stabilizing photos reduces shakiness and, according to Cornellier, makes the video more esthetically pleasing.
"It makes it way easier to watch, and makes the changes in my face more visible."
But stabilizing each photos took him about 50 hours, he said.
After releasing the video that ends with the wedding and having it go viral as well — it has 1.9 million views just seven days after its release — Cornellier still takes a selfie every day.
He doesn't plan to stop, although watching the video makes him nostalgic.
"That was just the latest update to the project," he said. "I will keep taking the photos forever pretty much."