John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony and John Dickson at Copco Lake in 1982 (Five Year Photo / copcolake.com)
They've since recreated that moment on film seven times over the past three decades, and say that they'll continue to do so every five years until they die.
John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony and John Dickson at Copco Lake in 2012 (Five Year Photo / copcolake.com)
John Wardlaw, John Dickson, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony were just 19 years old when the original photo was taken.
The young men had been staying at the Wardlaw family cabin where they fished, read, and shot homemade films. As the trip was winding down, they decided to snap a self-timed photo with Dickson's 35-millimeter camera in an attempt to remember their tight-knight group as a whole.
"Once we took it and saw the photo, we said, 'We should come back and take it in five years.'" Wardlaw, who is now a professional filmmaker, told the Santa Barbara News-press in 2007.
"We all thought, 'In 20 years, what if we all don't know each other?' By vowing to take a photo every five years, it would be a way to stay in touch."
And stay in touch, they did.
John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony and John Dickson at Copco Lake in 1992 (Five Year Photo / copcolake.com)
The original photo still hangs at the Wardlaw cabin in Copco beach, along with seven others, taken every five years on that same bench for the past three decades.
The photos are recreated almost perfectly, right down to the bug jar held by Molony - save for a few unavoidable changes.
"I look at the photos and think of the relationships I went through," Dickson told CNN. "Wedding rings come and go, if you look closely."
John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony and John Dickson at Copco Lake in 1997 (Five Year Photo / copcolake.com)
Hairlines, waistlines and tanlines also change as the photo series goes on. Wardrobes vary slightly, but their positions and somber glares remain the same throughout.
"For some reason, we all chose to have dark and mysterious expressions on our faces," said Wardlaw. "I'm sure we all thought we were being really cool."
John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony and John Dickson at Copco Lake in 2002 (Five Year Photo / copcolake.com)
The group celebrated the original photo's 30 year anniversary this month with yet another photo, and while it's becoming a lot more difficult to get together with the men spread out across the country, they won't be putting a stop to this tradition.
"We plan on doing this for the rest of our lives, no matter what," said Dickson. "Up until there's one guy just sitting in the same pose! Even then, maybe someone will take a picture of an empty bench for us."
Do you have any traditions that you've kept up for decades? How do you keep in touch with old friends? Let us know your thoughts below.
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