Friday Fave: How does photography affect you?

I’m still distracted by last week’s topic: Digital Distraction. And I’m finding more and more information that points to the value of our devices, but, with the caveat that we need to use them more effectively, to manage the how and why we use them. This video from Wired is in a series about how technology affects us – in particular, this one about photography related to last week’s article where we were being encouraged (told) to leave our devices at home, go out and experience the world without them. But… I use the camera in my phone – almost exclusively now. My DSLR and mirrorless digital cameras are gathering dust in a cupboard. So – to challenge leaving my phone (and that means my camera) at home, for me, means missing opportunities to take photos.

The video explores the research that asks how is the increase in the use of photography (through our devices) changing the way we see the world and our phones? And it’s fascinating!

Let’s start with the selfie! Why do we take selfies?

One of the comments suggests:

“It’s about what you want to look like. The best representation of you”

I’m not a huge selfie taker, so perhaps I’m naive or just not that fussed, but I had NO idea about all the selfie editing apps available and how people spend time “fixing” how they look!! What I also wasn’t aware of was that taking a photo about 1 foot (~30cms) away from your face creates a fisheye effect that can make your nose look about 30% wider!! Selfies distort your face!! You don’t really look like that!! (There’s some great research and comments from a facial plastic surgeon…). This effect is negative – it’s causing Instagram Anxiety in people who take a lot of selfies. (Warning – the studies are still very new and we need more data).

And next – how does taking a photo effect our memory?

The research is indicating that it can interfere with our experience, then we post it, then we start looking at what others have posted (see articles from Tristan Harris) and then we become anxious or have “self-representational concern”.  There’s more detail about the differences highlighted through researching how professional photographers look at the world and how they use their devices.

The conclusions are powerful. They recommend separating the sharing of photos until later – not in the moment. Make yourself more engaged by looking at the scene and trying to capture the experience. Avoid looking at the scene you’re photographing through the lens of your camera/phone – look at the scene, experience it, then try to capture the essence of that experience. If we do this, it is indicating that the memory is more powerful and meaningful.

So – I’m not going to be leaving my phone (camera) at home anytime soon – I’m going to be taking it everywhere. But I’m going to try and look at scenes and experiences differently. If I think of it as a communication tool, what is it in my photo that I want you, my Instagram viewer, to experience?

The video above is about 10 minutes long – I recommend watching all of it!


This post is part of a weekly Friday Faves series contributed by the team at Ripple Effect Group. Read the entire series and collections from other team members here.