Does taking photos enhance or detract from experiences?

Photos can enhance your experience, so long as they don't get in the way of the experience itself and you're not solely planning to share them.

Mindful photo-taking can increase enjoyment of and memory for experiences, but a social outward-focus can negate these effects (Diehl and Zauberman 2022):

  • Taking photos enhances enjoyment of positive experiences when photo-taking increases engagement with the experience (Diehl et al 2016). This is less likely when the experience itself is already highly engaging (Diehl et al 2016), or when photo-taking interferes with the experience (Diehl et al 2016; Nardini et al 2019).
  • Taking pictures with the intention to share them with others reduces enjoyment of experiences due to increased self-presentational concern during the experience, which can reduce enjoyment directly as well as indirectly by lowering engagement with the experience, especially among people who are more self-conscious and who are intending to share the photos with acquaintances rather than close friends (Barasch et al 2018).
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