If you’re a part of a long-term group of friends, you’re bound to have at least one “tradition” together. You know, like going to a festival every year or meeting up at the same bench for a beer once a month, or, say, coming together for a themed badass No Shave November photograph that gets better and better with each year?

The last one is exactly what happened a few days ago when Reddit user u/C1eve1and101 posted a picture collage of all of the themed No Shave November photos he and his friends have taken since 2013, each with a different theme and as badass as it can get!

This group of friends have a pretty cool tradition of taking a picture together for “No Shave November”

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

Meet Stephen Santos (u/C1eve1and101) and his friends Michael Lubin, Josh Antioho, Brock MacPherson, and Tyler Petersen from Los Angeles, California. Back in 2011, the group decided to take a picture together for No Shave November as just a fun thing to do. But, in 2013, it became a serious thing.

Bored Panda got in touch with Stephen, who elaborated on this project, starting with the inspiration behind this project:

“We just do a lot of online content in general, short films and sketches on YouTube. The No Shave November group picture started out in 2011, more so as just a fun thing to do with friends. But we decided in 2013 to do a picture where we (kinda) looked like lumberjacks, so we got one flannel that somehow fit all of us and an axe, Photoshopped them together, added a few effects and a background, and the yearly pictures took off from there.”

Each year, it’s a different theme, starting with lumberjacks and moving on to miners, pirates, etc.

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

In their first year, they all started off as lumberjacks and moved to doing a different theme every year. Pirates, Spartans, cowboys, firefighters, Oktoberfest drunks, miners—all have followed in the years since 2013. This year, their pick was vikings. And saying it’s hella awesome is an understatement.

The facial expressions, the outfits, the background setup and photoshopping skills, the personality and charisma seen in each picture—it blew the internet’s minds.

It all actually started in 2011, but didn’t become “internet official” until 2013, making this year their 8th in a row

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

Three of them live together, while the others are based within the surrounding area. So far, they’ve always come together for the photo and no extra photoshopping was required, as explained Stephen:

“We get asked how much of the picture is real and how much is photoshopped. The props and costumes are real for the most part. Photoshop mainly comes into play with any added effects (blood, dirt, shadowing, etc.), and because we take the photos individually and crop them together after, we have the option to share props if needed.”

He continued: “We do occasionally photoshop props in if we can’t find something good enough for the actual picture, like the spear for Spartans, or when we only had one gun for the Western and had to flip it in Josh’s other hand.”

And it gets better with each year—the facial expressions, the outfits, that one guy’s tooth gap—simply badass!

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

Stephen also said that another assumption that they often get is that this project takes a lot of time and money. In reality, it takes roughly three hours to take the pictures and to photoshop them together. The costumes come very cheap as well, and Michael, one of the lads, works in film production, so not only does he hook everyone up with props, but he also sets up the shots and photoshops the pictures quickly.

“I wish I could say the idea process was well-thought out and planned, but in reality, we just sit around every year and throw out a few ideas, and if we laugh enough at one, that gets picked”

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

As for how the gang decided on these particular themes, Stephen explained that there was never really much thought about it: “I wish I could say the idea process was well-thought out and planned, but in reality, we just sit around every year and throw out a few ideas, and if we laugh enough at one, that gets picked. But sometimes an idea will get pushed back years if we think of something better. The Western picture, for example, was brought up very early on, but we just kept coming up with better ideas.”

He continued: “We were finally going to do it in 2018, but California had some bad bush fires that year and we made the last-minute (literally day-of) change to firemen instead. After going viral the year before, we hoped to bring some attention to various charities around our area to help benefit the people affected.”

The 2018 one was an unexpected last-minute theme, done in line with the horrific bush fires in California

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

Speaking of viral, this year when the entire collage was posted on Reddit, it got heaps of attention. The pictures were posted on r/funny and r/beards, collectively amounting to over 110,000 upvotes with thousands of comments in just a day.

This year, the guys posted their 8 years of group portraits on Reddit where they were a massive success

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

And this success came as a bit of a surprise for the gang, as explained Stephen:

“From 2013-2016, we just thought of the No Shave pictures as something to share with our friends and family on Facebook and Instagram. Then in 2017, my girlfriend at the time suggested we put it on Reddit. I was familiar with Reddit back then, but none of us had ever posted anything on it and we weren’t sure if anything would come of it. She was much more confident than we were that it would get some attention.”

He continued: “And lo and behold, we got 62.7k upvotes on Reddit and I got the ‘told ya so’ look from her. And now in 2020, we have 109k upvotes and the group couldn’t be more excited that people enjoy and look forward to this very ridiculous thing we do.”

The pictures went viral immediately after posting, garnering over 110k upvotes on Reddit

Image credits: Stephen Santos And Friends

As mentioned previously, Stephen and his friends create a lot of online content, namely on YouTube, where you can also see a behind-the-scenes of how this year’s photo was made. You can check out the entire channel while you’re at it, as well as Lubin’s, Stephen’s, Josh’s, and Brock’s as well as Lumineer Media’s Instagrams.

What themes do you think the gang should do in the years to come? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

Check out the behind the scenes of this year’s epic viking-themed picture