‘Everyday imagery: Users’ reflections on smartphone cameras and communication’

Chris Peters and I are pleased to see our article, ‘Everyday imagery: Users’ reflections on smartphone cameras and communication,’ appear in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. Here’s the abstract and link to the pre-publication version:

User-based research into the lived experiences associated with smartphone camera practices – in particular, the taking, storing, curating and sharing of personal imagery in the digital media sphere – remains scarce, especially in contrast to its increasing ubiquity. Accordingly, this article’s detailed analysis of open-ended questionnaires from ‘millennial’ smartphone users elucidates the varied experiential, compositional and technological aspects associated with smartphone imagery in everyday life. It argues that the associated changes do more than just update previous technologies but rather open space up for emergent forms of visual communication. Specifically, our close interpretive reading indicates four key factors underlying the moments privileged when using smartphone cameras, namely: they deviate from the mundane, are related to ‘positive’ emotions, evince strong social bonds and encompass a future-oriented perspective. Relatedly, in terms of photographic composition, visual content tends to circulate around: the social presence of others, boundedness of event, perceived aesthetic value and intended shareability. Our findings question certain formulations about the gradual disappearance of media from personal consciousness in a digital age. If ceaselessness is a defining characteristic of the current era, our analysis reveals that the use of smartphone cameras is indicative of people affectively and self-consciously deploying the technology to try to arrest the ephemerality of daily life, however fleetingly. This article thus pinpoints the theoretical and methodological value of research approaches moving beyond a narrow focus on the usage patterns to uncover the spatio-temporal specificities shaping (and being shaped by) smartphone imagery and its communicative resonances.

Peters, C. and Allan, S. (2016) ‘Everyday imagery: Users’ reflections on smartphone cameras and communication,’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 1-17. OnlineFirst. DOI: 10.1177/1354856516678395

About Stuart Allan's personal blog

Stuart Allan is Professor and Head of the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University, UK.
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