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Everyday imagery: user's reflections on smartphone cameras and communication

Chris, Peters and Allan, Stuart 2018. Everyday imagery: user's reflections on smartphone cameras and communication. Convergence 24 (4) , pp. 357-373. 10.1177/1354856516678395

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Uncontrolled Keywords: Audience studies, cameras, connectivity, digital imagery, everyday life, mobility, personal photography, smartphones, visual communication
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1354-8565
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 November 2016
Date of Acceptance: 13 October 2016
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2018 06:39
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/96400

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