“Note to Future Self, Please Take a Picture of Me”: Create Your Own Ongoing Time Capsule

Photobooth time capsuleAs Doc Brown and Hiro Nakamura will tell you, sending a message to yourself in the the past is a tricky matter.

Fortunately, sending a message to a future you is far less error-prone, and requires neither flux capacitor nor fantastic genetic mutation.

Our friend Raul recently opened an envelope he sent himself 21 years ago, with instructions to add a photobooth self-portrait to the one contained within it. The similarities two decades later are striking.

Inspired by his example, we’ve compiled a short list of ideas for creating your own ongoing photo time capsule — an easy, fun photo project you can do anytime.

p.s. Yo, we’re on Facebook. Climb aboard the new Friends of Photojojo group!

p.p.s. Anyone know of a reliable way (non e-mail) to send a letter or package to yourself years in the future? Please email!

There’s nothing better than finding a $20 in an old pair of jeans — unless it’s finding a photo and a note from yourself, years prior. There’s something about finding a small, unexpected gift to yourself that’s just wonderful.

How to do it

Raul Gutierrez has been squirreling away photos for his future self since he was a kid. (He’s got an envelope from his 15 year-old-self waiting for his 45 year-old-self.)

His process is simple. He’ll snap a pic, slip it an envelope, write a date for when it can be opened, then put it in a filing cabinet by date or in a book he knows he’ll re-read.

Given enough time, he’ll forget what’s inside. When discovered, each envelope becomes photo treasure!

Here’s an example of one he found recently:

About a year ago I found an envelope with my handwriting on the the outside: “On May 15th, 2007 at 11:05PM find a photobooth and take a full rotation of your head. Don’t open until you have the picture.” I vaguely remembered creating this little time capsule (I do this from time to time), so I kept the envelope sealed until tonight… found a photobooth as directed and took the set of pictures.

These are the results. The similarity of the final frame sort of creeps me out.

The date on the back of the first picture was May 15th, 1986 11:05PM. I was 19 years old.

When to do it

It’s up to you. We think a note sent to some random date in the future is a pretty fun thing. Who knows what you’ll be doing or where you’ll be in exactly one year, or 999 days from today?

Or follow Raul’s example and focus on inflection points: an arrival, a departure, a graduation, birth, death, new job, girlfriend, house, car, etc. Take a self portrait, a photo of a place you know you’ll be able to find again, or a photo of someone you know will still be in your life years from now.

Either way, take a photo of something or someone or some place you know you’ll be able to find later. Part of the magic in the ongoing time capsule is revisiting a subject after many years to see how it’s changed over time. Or how your future self reinterprets the same subject when taking a photo years later.

Good places to hide things

Whatever project or subject you settle upon, you’ll need a way to make sure you find your photo and instructions in the future. Good places to hide things depend on your subject. Here are some examples:

  • Want to take a photo whenever you change apartments? Hide your photo envelope and instructions under a piece of furniture or something heavy you’re sure to take with you when you move. (A television, stereo, or computer monitor are good bets.)
  • Taking a photo whenever you travel? Tape your envelope to the inside of your favorite suitcase so it’s visible whenever you start packing.
  • Hide your photo and instructions in a book you’re sure to read again, in the back of a desk drawer, or in a photo album.
  • Stuff the photo and instructions in the attic, then use FutureMe to email yourself the location years later. (Hopefully you’ve held onto that Gmail or Yahoo email years from now.)

Photo Credit: Raul Guiterrez