It started like any other timer self portrait: John Dickson pressed the shutter release, then ran to take his place with his buddies. It was Fourth of July weekend, 1982, and the teenagers were vacationing at one of their parents’ family cabin in California. One of them held up a jar holding their pet cockroach, stocked with a butterscotch candy for food, and a picture of actor Robert Young for company. And that was it.
Five years later, back at the cabin again, John Wardlaw, one of the five who’d gotten interested in photography, suggested they make the portrait a tradition, and took over behind the camera. And so the The Five Year Photo Project of the Copco Lake Five was launched.
— John Dickson, copcolake.com
By 2012, the unpresuming group’s tradition had came to the attention of the internet, and went viral, picked up by the Today Show, CNN, the Huffington Post, Sunrise Australia (!) and more. Wardlaw is making a documentary about the project.
No word about the cockroach.
Also in the series Magic vs. the Bony Guy: Six Lifespan Projects That Speak to Us All:
- A Desperate Swipe at Immortality: Marc Tasman’s 10-Year Polaroid Self-Portrait Project
- This is the Power of Time: Father and Son Across Three Decades
- From Friendly Desperation: Nicholas Nixon, the Brown Sisters, and a Four-Decade Appointment