Shooting a photo every day and then sharing it online improves your well-being. That’s what scientists found after studying a group of people who have committed themselves to photo-a-day projects (often referred to as “Project365“).
The findings were just published in a paper titled “The daily digital practice as a form of self-care: Using photography for everyday well-being” in the journal Health. UK scientists Liz Brewster of Lancaster University and Andrew M Cox of the University of Sheffield were behind the study.
The duo selected a sample of subjects with approximate ages ranging from 20 to 60. The participants post a photo every day to services such as Instagram, Flickr, and Blipfoto. Each photographer was monitored for two months, with researchers recording the photos taken, captions written, and interactions had with other photographers in the online communities. After two months, the photographers also gave a phone interview.
What the scientists found was that the act of shooting and sharing daily photos improves a person’s well-being through self-care (it’s therapeutic, renewing, and refreshing), community interaction (it provides regular interaction with people who share the same interests), and reminiscence (it provides the ability to look back on one’s life).
Here are some quotes from the study’s participants:
It’s really good to be able to take that five minutes every day to do something slightly creative, which I enjoy doing and I think is good for well-being. It’s positive in that it gives me something to look for.
[My job] was a very highly stressful role … Oh, God. There were some days when I’d almost not stopped to breathe, you know what I mean … And just the thought: oh wait a moment, no, I’ll stop and take a photograph of this insect sitting on my computer or something. Just taking a moment is very salutary I think.
Connections with other people and sharing things, and so being able to put things out there and then get a response back. And it can be some surprising people, as well, it’s almost like having a personal conversation but with a lot of people at once, that sounds a bit odd. I’ve found you can be saying these things and then different people will react back to them. And yeah, it gives a sense of connection, which helps well-being.
If I’m ever feeling down or something it’s nice to be able to scroll back and see good memories. You know, the photos I’ve taken will have a positive memory attached to it even if it’s something as simple as I had a really lovely half an hour for lunch sitting outside the [location] and was feeling really relaxed.
The scientists conclude that committing yourself to photo-a-day projects can provide a number of health benefits.
“Photo-a-day is not a simple and uncomplicated practice; rather it is the complex affordances and variance within the practice that relate it to well-being,” the scientists write in the paper. “We conclude that this practice has multifaceted benefits for improving well-being.”