We take photos for a lot of reasons these days. Whether it’s just because of the convenience of always having a camera in our pockets attached to our smartphones, or the thrill of being able to share everything on social media, it’s clear that we love taking photos — perhaps a little too much.
Does photo-taking make us happier, or does it steal our attention away from enjoying the present moment like so many people claim? If yogi philosophy is all about increasing our awareness to become mindful of what’s happening right now, then it would be easy to assume that photo-taking definitely impairs that intention.
It turns out you don’t have to resist snapping several photos when you’re out enjoying yourself, and in fact, it’s probably more beneficial to go ahead and do just that. Here’s why.
Increase Your Engagement
A fascinating study on the psychological effects of photo-taking found that those who took photos of their experiences were more engaged and therefore happier when they were asked to recall the experience — compared to those who didn’t take photos. When you prepare to snap a photo, your mind has to zero in on your surroundings to figure out how to get the best shot, so you naturally submerge yourself in the experience more than the average onlooker. Higher engagement in positive experiences leads to increased enjoyment.
Find Pleasure in the Ordinary
We tend to underestimate how much enjoyment we get out of some of the most ordinary experiences, and photos can help with this. In a set of studies that looked into this trend, researchers found that people who reread a log that they wrote a couple months ago (like a diary entry) of their everyday activities admitted to appreciating those experiences much more since the time had passed. Photos can have the same effect by reminding you of the simple pleasures that come from some of the most ordinary experiences.
Connect With Someone
We don’t necessarily have to be looking at somebody’s face in person to be able to connect with them, so taking a photo of your relatives, friends, or even a beloved pet can be enough to benefit you psychologically when you can’t physically be with them. According to Researcher Dr. Owen Churches, when we look at images of people, we automatically look for how a person’s mouth is positioned in relation to other facial features like the eyes and nose. This causes specific parts of the brain to be triggered.
Cultivate More Self-Love
When it comes to taking photos of ourselves (a.k.a. “selfies”), the research is kind of mixed. Some research has linked selfie-taking to narcissism while on the other hand, it appears that selfies can be great for boosting confidence and fostering more self-love. Research that looked at the selfie-taking habits of 365 undergraduate students found that the highest number of selfies were posted by people with high self-esteem. Taking more selfies may help us become more aware of parts of our appearances we typically don’t like in a way that helps us learn to embrace them.
So go ahead and start snapping photos of anything your heart desires. Photo-taking won’t make you miss out on the moment, nor will it necessarily turn you into a narcissist if selfies are your thing!