Does having a camera in our hands reduce the enjoyment of experiences we are witnessing around us?
The first article I ever wrote in 2020 discussed how the travel industry, as well as the natural habitat of popular destinations, have been affected by our need of documenting everything around us, primarily with smartphones, which are so accessible nowadays. Long gone are the days where we have to wait days for our travel photos to be developed, because today, we live in an instant world. A study, that I mentioned in the article, looked into how we perceive the experiences we partake and how the ability of sharing or not sharing them through photos impact our enjoyment of the whole event.
Similarly, Robert Roy Britt, an independent health and science journalist, explored this topic, but the studies he highlighted had inconclusive results, with one finding that on average, we do enjoy the experience less if we are asked to not only participate but also take images along the way. While another study conducted in 2016, where participants took part in bus tours and excursions for a meal, found that those who took photographs actually enjoyed it more. Not just that, these participants also reported that they were more engaged in the activities, too.
Clearly, there isn't one final answer on whether our enjoyment increases or decreases when we try to create photographic memories of our experiences and travels. However, two additional studies Britt describes focused on a slightly different question: does taking or not taking photographs affect our memory of what we saw and experienced?
These two led to almost opposite findings yet again, which brings us to square one, or rather, it just shows how differently image-taking is affecting us, our memory, and our experiences as a whole. What can we learn from this? In whichever way taking photographs shapes your life, make sure you are conscious about enjoying each of the experiences you have. That way, you don't end up not being fully present whether you are taking a few photographs or actually enjoying that trip or a nice meal. Also, set time aside to actually interact with the images you have produced, instead of simply creating them and never revisiting them.
You can read more about all the studies mentioned here.