Photo-A-Day Keeps the Blues Away

Science Fields

What do you notice about the people around you when you go to a brand-new restaurant or a coffee shop? Most likely, you will notice (some) people snapping photos of the food they eat, the coffee they drink or taking selfies.

Over the past couple of years, we have normalized taking pictures of mundane activities that we engage in every day and posting them on social media sites via numerous smart phone applications. On the surface, this might seem like an unnecessary activity that takes away from time spent on more important things like work and school. However, new research findings suggest otherwise.

Meaning making through digital daily practice

Dr. Liz Brewster (Lancaster University) and Dr. Andrew Cox (University of Sheffield) studied the daily picture taking/posting habits of eight individuals to investigate the effects of digital photo taking on wellbeing. An online observer shadowed the participants for two months and recorded the pictures they took, the texts they added to the pictures and their overall interaction with others online.

Here is what they found through observations and in-depth interviews with the study participants: Taking a photo every day and posting it online allows people to take a moment to be mindful every day for the sake of finding something interesting to take a picture of. It also gives people an opportunity to get up and move. The participant comments suggest that this practice is a great excuse to get out of the house and explore one’s environment – especially during times of boredom and/or stress.

According to the researchers, the photo-a-day challenge also increases people’s sense of competence. In other words, committing to taking pictures everyday may help people enhance their existing creative skills. Posting it online on the other hand, helps people to achieve a daily goal.

Though, interacting with other photo-a-day participants allowed for new friendships to blossom, some reported feeling overwhelmed by the online community. On the other hand, those who were retired found that “the contact established via photo-a-day replaced some of the daily office chatter that they missed.”

The takeaway message

Overall, the research suggests that commitment to taking and sharing pictures every day improves wellbeing. Engaging in digital daily practices helps people give meaning to the mundane and connect with their environment in different ways.


  • 1. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2018/daily-photography-improves-wellbeing/
  • 2. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1363459318769465