I am often annoyed when I’m at an event (concert, game, kid’s show) and I can’t see the action because everyone has their phone up to record the goings-on. I understand that people want to re-live the happening later and/or need evidence of their encounter for posterity, but when I saw Def Leppard perform a few weeks ago, I wanted to experience their 1983 hit song Photograph, not view it through a sea of spectators photographing Photograph.
My frustration may have been amiss. An exhaustive study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that taking photographs enhances enjoyment of events. Led by Kristin Diehl, the research featured several field studies in a number of environments (a city bus tour, diners, a museum) where half the participants were told they could not take photos, and the other half could. They then rated their enjoyment of the experiences.
Consistently, Diehl found that people who took photos enjoyed themselves significantly more. They felt more immersed in the experience and paid greater attention to the event. The research also showed that the mere act of thinking about when to take photos, but not actually taking them, boosted engagement.
Even with these findings, I adhere to the wise Def Leppard lyrics: “Photograph, I don’t want your // Photograph, I don’t need your // Photograph, All I’ve got is a photograph // But it’s not enough.” However, just because I’m a curmudgeon, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t utilize Diehl’s outcomes to enhance your workplace.
Consider incorporating photo-taking and video-recording in your culture building events. Display the pictures in newsletters. Integrate them into recruiting materials. Post them in your social media campaigns. This not only demonstrates your culture, but if you give credit to the photographer, you’ll reinforce others to take more pictures… not me, per se, but everyone else.