CHILDREN grow up fast, as any parent will attest – but perhaps none more so than Cory McLeod, whose whole life flashes by in a six-and-a-half minute video clip that has become a YouTube hit.
His dad Ian has taken his photograph almost every day since he was born and has now turned the images into a time-lapse film to mark him turning 21.
What began as a “daft idea” by the family, from Starbeck, Harrogate – “one I came up with after a drink or two, maybe,” Ian admits – has now been watched by more than 613,000 people worldwide.
“I was thinking I could do it for two years at most, then knock it on the head,” he said.
“But then you get to the point where you wonder if you’ll regret it if you stop.”
“You brush your teeth twice a day, what’s hard about a click?”
Cory’s first picture was taken at the former Harrogate General Hospital and from then on his transformation from newborn to young man has been charted in more than 7,500 images.
The dizzying reel captures a young life lived to the full, from the sporty boy in his football kit to the footloose student at a house music festival in Belgium and at Machu Piccu in Peru during a three-month trip around South America with friends.
“You can’t say I’ve got a boring life,” said Cory.
The seminal moments are all documented, from his first birthday to his first days at school at Oatlands Primary School and St Aidan’s High School, as is the everyday minutae of his childhood.
Inevitably, there are a few days missing. A whole month was once lost when the camera’s film would not wind.
Another time, Ian’s camera was stolen while the family were on holiday in Chile.
At other times, it slipped past midnight before they realised.
“He’s never cheated,” said Cory. “Even at five minutes past, he wouldn’t take it.”
The first time a picture was missed, Ian panicked, but luckily his niece had taken a picture that day. Now, on the rare occasion it happens, Ian slots in a sketch.
He started scanning the pictures last year and it took him three months to digitise them all.
“It’s never been straightforward. We weren’t organised, it’s always been chaotic,” he said.
He could never have imagined when he first photographed his newborn son the phenomenal hit his project would become.
In the two weeks since uploading it to the video-sharing website, it has notched up more than 610,000 hits – half of them from Japan in one day last week.
“When I started this, there was no YouTube. All I had in mind was a video. That was as far as the idea went,” said Ian.
Even as they uploaded the film, 21 Years, the pair never expected it to receive such a response.
“I had been a bit wary, my hand hovered over the upload button. But we did it. It was like opening Pandora’s box,” said Ian.
Cory has since been contacted by admirers on Facebook and Twitter and the video has attracted a number of comments about his ‘hotness’ – but he insists he is not fazed by the attention. “It’s like I’m on The Truman Show,” he said.
Cory admits he used to find it awkward having to take a camera on school trips or to visit friends.
“My dad’s had to drive to a friend’s house before. I got a bit of stick for that,” he said.
“I used to find it awkward, I didn’t realise the value of it. It was only when I got to 16 or 17 that I started to appreciate it, and realised what it could be.”
Since leaving home to study film and television production at Leeds Metropolitan University, he has carried on with the project.
“When do you stop? I don’t think I can. We’ve come this far, we may as well carry on,” he said.