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    Posted July 30, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo traditions

    Carolina Girls Through the Years


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Taking a group photo every year, uncgirlbec says she and her friends didn't set out to make a photo tradition, but that it naturally and unexpectedly became one. Always having taken photos together in college, she says it wasn't until they graduated when they started meeting every year around Christmas and taking group photos. "Every year it takes so much planning and maneuvering to get all four of us together. We have to figure out where to meet, how much vacation time we have, how to get there and who can drive, and how to tell our parents and siblings we'll be gone around Christmas," she says. "But we know that once we're finally together, we're going to talk until we're hoarse and laugh until our faces go numb. And the photos capture that. With the self-timer photos, it's just us being us, no one else plays a role, and I think that's neat."

    As she looks back on the photos throughout the years, she says she feels grateful every time she looks at them. Sharing that most of their meet ups have been at UNC, where they first met as freshman. "I have them around my apartment and hanging in my office and I never get tired of looking at them," she says. "It's been six years since we graduated, which isn't that long, but given our locations and all the changes in our lives in that time, I just feel very blessed that we're all still such good friends."
    - Anika3, CNN iReport producer

    The four of us met as undergraduates at the University of North Carolina. We graduated in 2006 and since then, despite living in different cities and countries and being spread across time zones, we have been able to reunite each year. Though we rarely get more than 24 hours together, it's enough to sustain us until next time. (The daily communicating through Gchat, email, and text message helps, too.)

    Our routine stays the same as it always did: we start with Mexican food and margaritas and end with group photos. The photos involve lining up four digital cameras, setting the self-timers, racing away, and cramming ourselves on to a couch or the floor. We face the firing squad of flashbulbs and try to guess which one will go off first. We all guess differently. One of us looks that way, one looks this way, one blinks, one moves, all laugh. And repeat. As many times as necessary.

    The more we take, the more we laugh and run into each other, as we set, race, and cram. By the end of our shoot, we have 20 photos taken within seconds of each other.

    Sometimes we ask others to take the photos for us, but they aren't quite the same. The photos and gatherings are just one aspect of a friendship that is a constant through the apartment changes, job changes, and relationship changes that have defined our 20s. And, hopefully, the friendship will continue to be a constant throughout the changes that will define our 30s, 40s, and beyond.
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