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Annuals

Why you should get your photo taken every year

Families are often associated with the “yearly family photo,” but yearly photos are something everyone should partake in. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or married with a family; you should get your photo taken every year.

Every now and then, there are stories about people who took a photo of themselves for years. One of those stories was about Noah Kalina. For 12-and-a-half years, Kalina took a picture of himself every day, and in 2012, he posted a compilation of those photos as a YouTube video.

The video is striking and, a bit, eerie—due in part to the soundtrack that accompanies the video. It lets you view how this man, Kalina, lived his life for 12 years. You see how his appearance changes, and you view some of the different life stages he passes through as the background changes and he ages.

In another similar case, Zed Nelson, a photographer, documents the life of a family in his project, The Family. Nelson photographs a family on the same day for 24 years. It’s a lovely project that shows the way members of a family change over time.

Both projects act as a record of the lives of the people photographed, and they carry flavors of the yearly school pictures you took in school as a kid. At the moment, school pictures seem bothersome and annoying, but looking back at the school photos, it’s hard not to smile. Yearly photos—whether school-themed or not—are a fun and easy way to document the changes you go through as time passes.

Yearly photos have the obvious benefit of acting as a way to record memories, but there’s more. Have you ever looked at photos and felt nostalgic? According to John Tierney, a columnist at The New York Times, feelings of nostalgia have psychological benefits.

“Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer,” writes Tierney.

What about that bittersweet feeling you get when you hear an old song on the radio, and it reminds you of the good times you’ve had in the past? That feeling is also nostalgia, and you can get it by reminiscing over yearly photos of you and your pals. You could make it a tradition, like the five guys who took the same photo every year, for 30 years.

Taking your picture every year is the kind of thing that doesn’t seem useful until 20 or 50 years have passed. You’ll thank yourself for getting those pictures taken when years down the line you have plenty of photos to get nostalgic over. You’ll also get to see how you and your family have changed.

It’s not easy to see the use of this until years have passed. 20 or 50 years from now it will be nice to be able to look back at your life and reminisce about the changes you’ve experienced. You and your family will experience many positive changes, and it’ll be nice to look back and remember those times.