Father, son pose for same photo for 3 decades

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1986Tian Li was born in the summer of 1986 in southeastern China’s Guizhou Province. His father, then 27, took the first photo with him on his birthday.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1987Tian Li, 29, is a director living and working in Beijing. He told CNN that his artist father Tian Jun, 56, had the idea of taking a picture every year on his son’s birthday in the same spot.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1988Tian, the son, recalled that most of the photos were taken against the wall outside of the apartment where the family had lived together for 20 years in southeastern China’s Guizhou Province.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1989Tian told CNN the reason why they were shirtless in pictures is because Tian Li’s birthday is in the summer. “The weather was so hot so we went bare-chested. We’ve kept the ritual consistent deliberately.”

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1990Tian Li said he had never thought about what the photos meant to him when he was younger. “It has become a habit a long time ago that we took the same picture every year when I visited my parents, as naturally as going home for the Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner every year.”

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1991Tian Li was born in 1986.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1992His father was born in 1959.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1993Tian Li sees the series of images as a form of performance art rather than just photography.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1994As his son grew up, his dad grew older and gained weight!

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1995Tian Li posted the photos to Chinese social network WeChat, and the images have been viewed by millions around the world since late July.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1996Tian acknowledges that the story of father-son bonding, and a boy’s coming of age, have a universal appeal.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1997The last year Tian Li was carried by his father in the photo.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1998Tian Li says his dad ran every business you could think of, from real estate to tourism to farming, before returning to the art school he had taught at for years.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

1999Teenager Tian Li, 13, with dad Tian Jun, 40.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2000A puppy joins them in the picture.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2001Sixteen years in, the photo became more casual than ever.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2002Tian Li at 16, Tian Jun at 43.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2003Bill posters occupied the background. Tian Li grew taller than father Tian Jun this year.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2004Eighteen-year-old Tian Li was admitted to Beijing Film Academy. Tian told CNN this year marked the first and biggest milestone in his life. He has since left home and pursued a career as a film director in Beijing.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2005But the Tian family’s photo ritual continued. Tian Li said they took the pictures when he visited his parents during the summer breaks.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2006Tian Li turns 20, his father 47.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2007Tian Li graduated from college with a degree in Film Directing. This picture was taken inside his parents’ home in the winter.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2008Tian Li at 22, Tian Jun at 49.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2009Tian Li at 23, as Tian Jun turned 50.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2010This year, Tian Li went to graduate school to study more directing.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2011Tian Li turned 25, while Tian Jun was 52.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2012Tian Li got married.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2013Tian Li is carrying his father in this picture.

Father and son pose for the same photo for three decades

2015Tian Li’s son Timothy debuts in the family photo. Timothy was born in the United States in 2014, so Tian Li didn’t get a chance to take a photo with his father that year. “What was missed has been missed, but we’ll keep taking the three-generation pictures for sure,” Tian told CNN.

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