Tian Li and his father Tian Jun have been taking the same photo every year for 30 years. Li was born in China's southeastern Guizhou Province In 1986, and to celebrate Li's first birthday Jun took a photo of him and his son in front of a wall outside their apartment. The pair turned the yearly photo into a tradition, and continued to take a photo together every year since.
The photos all share a visual aesthetic. With only one exception, the photos are all black and white and are featured against a plain white wall. In each photo both father and son are shirtless. Tian told CNN
the reason for this is Li's birthday falls in the hot summer months in China, and the family would often strip off layers to remain cool.
There was only a single year since 1986 in which Li and Jun did not take a photo together. According to CNN,
the pair missed their ritual photograph in 2014 because Li was in the United States for the birth of his first child. This year, a the composition of the photos was changed dramatically by the addition of a new person - Li's son, Timothy.
This isn't the first time a photo series showing a group aging has captured the minds of others. In 2012, CNN reported that five friends from Santa Barbara
had been taking the same picture every five years. Their story was shared by millions and received worldwide media attention. Time is something that human beings cannot control, which may account for why so many are fascinated
by these sort of time-lapse projects.
Jun, who considered himself an artist, told People's Daily
that he started the project because he thought the idea of taking the same photo every year would be interesting. Li, who has grown up to be a film director in China, considers the series of photographs an artistic expression, not just a series of family snapshots. "Time itself is a form of art," Li told People's Daily (translated by DailyMail
). "This is the power of time."