#blendedmem: Why we take photos and what we do with them

This is a little project page for a couple of questions I’ve put out there:

(a) Why do you take photos? 
(b) What do you do with photos you've taken?

I’m asking this because I want to explore the different purposes we have in mind when we take photos, and the discrepancy between those initial purposes and what we end up doing with the photos later on. This should help me to refine some “purpose” categories I’ve been working on for my research and perhaps, eventually, explain why some of us seem to take so many photos and do so little with them while others manage to engage meaningfully with every photo they take.

There are some great messages coming in on this. I’ve pasted a sample at the bottom of the page. If you’d like to contribute, please

  • tweet your answers with hashtag #blendedmem, or
  • leave a comment at the bottom of this page.



Sample answers


my photos are mementos of happy/beautiful/funny/interesting things and moments. I delete bad ones and never organise them.

I take photos as form of expression & to docu life/world.I upload, sell, archive and exhibit them.

a) memories, capture funny moments, evidence, records, to see changes
b) store on hard drive, SMS to family or friend, make into books for my own kids, records / reports / newsletters 

a) to capture+remember special moments
b) put in folders (inc date+place) on exthardisk justincase 1day I look at them

(a) family occasion … because that’s what always been done
(b) if they are on digital form they get filed in G+ else Photo album

I love taking photos it makes me smile!! Builds a collection of personal stock images to use in web design jobs!

(a) creative pleasure & to record occasions
(b) upload online, give away on CD, print & frame, use as basis for art

I take photos for capturing, remembering, sharing. Use my phone – for viewing too. Take more photos, but rarely print.

I take pictures to try to cheat time and memory. I keep them on my phone; once every few years I print some out.

1 while hillwalking to capture plants & mushrooms I don’t recognise for identifying later
2 to capture textures, colours & objects for creating other images in photoshop
3 to help me remember things – e.g. A map on a sign when I don’t have a map and need to follow a route
4 to capture something that seems funny or somehow striking, which I may want to share with 1 or 2 people via email/twitter/text 

Photos taken to share. Cats, garden, things to remem l8er, small moments of win. Facebook, Flickr, iPhoto, email. Always digital

Facebook blipfoto flickr for friends & family, then thought, why not global. Flowers & veg seasonal marker & grounding

I do it for the story. Some of my best I share, many I hoard all to myself

I take pictures and post a daily @Blipfoto blog because the it connects me to the world, and a daily picture builds a story.

landscapes, places I’ve visited, events like snow days – so I can remember. Not ppl so much – I can remember them 🙂 & I keep them on my computer, occasionally share on FB, email. Sometimes use for imagery for work (boundary crossing?)

to change my world view always have 1 theme project did 365 days am&pm, now casting a shadow. Everpresent smartphone changed all

a) puppies! garden! and special events. b) download them to iphoto, admire them, intend to winnow, never do.

Ah that’s reminded me of the other thing I do: take very silly pictures to amuse […] & iMessage/MMS them to her!

Photo things that I think are pretty, unusual, interesting. And my kids and cat. Most I keep on phone, share on Fb, occ Twitpic.

Take photos for sharing knitting/cooking, for work (events), recording stuff that inspires me. On hard-drive & share on flickr.

I take photos for enjoyment, aesthetic pleasure, & for recording some events & work. I share most on Flickr – mainly own account


I used to take photos to remember stuff but that was before you could shoop ‘em and make them lie. Nowadays taking a photo can be a way of getting raw materials for creating something that doesn’t necessarily exist in reality… my partner recently emailed me a photo of a spectacular display of the Aurora Borealis appearing in the sky over our local chip shop. It was completely and obviously shooped and it was very funny since it juxtaposed the sublime with the ridiculous.

I take photos for two reasons:
1) to capture and give permanence to something, someone, some event which I consider to be striking/remarkable.
2) to create something which is striking i.e. which provokes interest.
I am often frustrated that the camera does not reproduce what I ‘see’.
What do I do with the photos? The majority remain on the camera’s memory card which is probably due to the fact that I rarely achieve my photographic aims (see above).

I suppose predominantly I take photos to remember. I don’t have a great visual memory so I like to capture things on camera. The main things that fit in this category are the beers we drink on our monthly beer tastings – it’s important to have some recollection of what was good, and things I want to show to friends but can’t explain. 
Holiday photos are for remembering too, but they’re also because I like the creativity of spotting and capturing a good shot. Sometimes you see something and think that would make a fab picture.
Also more recently a camera at 10 megapixels is a quick alternative to a scanner.
What do I do with them – save them in ordered folders on my computer, and share a subset on facebook or with friends. I also make a calendar with them annually, and once or twice I’ve made a friend a book of photos or a collage. Then once in a blue moon I decide to print a load as I much prefer looking at them in hard copy.

I take photos to understand how to turn objects into abstracts. I also take photos of my family and events as I realise now that things that were photographed when I was little give me a memory, a story, that help me remember what it was all about. I like taking pictures of fleeting moments, ordinary still life and patterns that become meaningful. I also started taking an interest in photographing graffiti. Some photos are posted on Facebook or for my blog.

I take photos mainly because I enjoy the process of creating a, hopefully, interesting and engaging image from the scenes around me. But realise I usually only take photos when I have a space or reason to share them: generally on my blog, or via twitter, or to use in future lectures etc. I also sometimes take them just to experiment, to see if my idea, composition etc works.

I take photos of nice scenes / things / occasions and use them for my own memories and to share with friends. I think that it’s important that there is a story behind the picture as it makes it relevant. I take pictures exclusively on my iPhone camera and don’t use any other camera. My iPhone has made it easier to take better pictures, hence I use it more.

I do several things with my photographs. I share them in my social media channels to share funny things, nice things in my life, etc. I store them to use them later, for example as a cd cover for my own compilation cds, or to send to family. And of course I store them for memories!

I take photos because I don’t have a screen my brain can download images onto. I’m also useless with oil paints, can’t mix egg tempura, and pencil drawings and woodcuts don’t capture the light in the same way. After I take my photos they sit in the memory card until I dump it into i-Photo. Then they sit there until I blog them, put them in a book, make a movie, give them to students to write stories about, Gimp them into New Year’s cards, save them for blackmail purposes (especially Christmas Turkey Hat photos) or on the odd occasion get them blown up and framed. Every now and then my husband goes through them saying ‘awww, remember when…?’ Sometimes I actually do.

To make something feel real and to make something fleeting feel more permanent and also as trying to make a photo look any good and capture anything about the thing as it seems in my reality is challenging and somewhat addictive. oh and b) I generally do nothing with them anymore, except store them on some digital media. Used to play with them on photoshop and print some, but generally just store them and forget them now. And now you have made me think about it, I have done some facebook sharing.

I take photo’s mainly, and almost exclusively, at ‘events’, so trips and holidays. Also, since we have [baby], I take pictures of significant events and moments ( or rather, i feel i should) but not so much for us to remember them, or capture them, but for her to sortof reconstruct her own childhood – which she for the largest part won’t be able to recollect herself. ( so it’s kind of a responsibility). Often when i feel like taking a picture its because i feel this is a moment i should remember. This ‘should’ is mainly a knowing that leads to a feeling, i know i should want to keep this thing i’m witnessingbecause i’ve seen other people doing it or so. It’s likethe image, the picture, already exists, and that leads me to take the picture, or the idea of taking it to occur to me. If that makes sense:-)

i take photos (with my phone) of anything that catches my attention enough to stop whatever i was just doing – i keep them on my phone and sync them with my laptop and go through them every now and then – and sometimes there are real surprises. and of course there the “other” photo taking where i plan to bring my slr and take photos of events / trips where i want to have photos to remember.

a) I take photo’s to share moments with others who aren’t there. (On reflection it is more often that I have instant audiences in mind than a historical record, though that is more of a factor for holiday photos.) 
b) Leave them in my phone/camera primarily! Share on social media (facebook), print to photo books, print to frame and display.

a) I take photos to bring back memories. 
b) Once taken I store them away and find them several weeks/months/sometimes years later!!!!

I take photos to remember things but also if I want to capture a beautiful moment. We have some photos on our walls and on display but most are stored either on computers, phones or in boxes under the bed!

I take photos whenever I go anywhere interesting – normally landscapes, or close-ups of flowers etc. My main aim is to take a ‘good’ photo -, something pleasing to the eye or even something you’d want to hang on the wall, but that very rarely happens! I quite like messing with lenses and filters to get different effects! But more often recently just use a ‘point and shoot’ digital camera which is lighter and easier to carry. Either way it makes me look at the surroundings in more detail, I think. I store the photos on a computer, but any good ones get printed out and framed. A few get posted to facebook. I’ve also started making them into photo books (e.g with jessops), I prefer a hard copy to look through and to show to friends and family.

I like to take photos of people to capture a moment. I’m a poor photographer so I keep many bad photos of people to remind me of them and they’re often wearing an expression that bears no relation to how I think of them. (And not just a “don’t dare take that photo” expression!) Sometimes I take photos of things like my desk, writing etc to try to illustrate a point as realistically as possible and add them to a prezi, powerpoint etc. I took my own photo on my iPad back in September for this site and various other places. It took 112 shots to get the expression on my face I wanted, but it didn’t really look like me (looked younger for a start!).

I take pictures for a number of reasons. I take them for memories of events, places and people. I keep them electronically and print the best ones for albums. Some of the best ones I enlarge and frame. I also take pictures as I’m interested in photography and enjoy composing good shots. I share some of these online on flickr and share photography tips. I have printed and framed some of my best photographs and some have been used for travel guides. I often take pictures of events (such as weddings) so that I can provide others with memories of events.

I take pics to capture moments and memories but I also like to think I can frame a good shot if I put my mind to it. So there’s an element of artistic satisfaction too. I’m totally digital snapshot (but not phone cam… perleeese!) these days. And I rarely do anything with them because I’m too strung out with work and family life!! Must update that back up drive!!!!!

I take photos to capture a moment, as a reminder for myself and to share with friends and family. I mostly just post them to Facebook and Instagram in the short term but I do like to go back through old photos to reminisce. I rarely get round to printing them out anymore. Haven’t even done my wedding album from 18 months ago. (Sad, all we need to do is pick favourite photos and it’ll be made for us…)

a) I take them to capture special places, places and moments and also in an attempt to be artistic b) my photos are in albums, scrapbooks, plastic boxes and variously on iPhoto, Facebook, Flickr and Snapfish and also on my phone, iPod and iPad. Recently I have been trying to consolidate my decades of slides and photos to do an anniversary album of how we got this far together.

I often wonder why I take pictures because, in the end, I seldom look at them afterwards. The exception is those pictures I take for artistic reasons, which I like to look at in order to improve my skills but also to remind myself of the process I went through that particular day (the encounter with the subject, looking for the right angle, light, etc.). The other motivation, which is quite different, is taking pictures of a particular event I really enjoy. This usually happens with family and friends. I guess taking this kind of pictures is a subconscious attempt to make an event last forever when we know it will eventually slip away from us. Although these pictures are not as “beautiful” as the former, they are the one that truly matters.

I take photos to document my life journey. I try to capture places and times that when I’m in them, I feel that I’ll want to look back and remember that time. Looking back through my physical photo albums helps jog my memories, as do the last 10 years or so of digital photo albums (kept on iPhoto, best uploaded to facebook or one of several web albums elsewhere). It’s got to the point where if I’ve not taken photos of something (e.g. no camera, or too shy to photograph people), my memory of the event is much less vivid than if I’ve taken photos. Conversely, there are some times when I have not had a camera and I have taken a mental photograph, and often that sticks too, but I have to try hard to begin with to lock it into memory.

I take photos to help me capture memories – I have them up around my house and in digital form and look at them to remind me of the times/people/places they capture. Now I have a child I hope the photos we take of her will be interesting to her when she is older in capturing our family before she can remember it.

I take them to remember things, and also out of a sense of artistry. If I wander round with a camera – or more recently my phone set to camera function, I see things differently. What do I do with them? I just keep them. I used to keep their analogue ancestors in shoe boxes, then I kept them digitally on my hard drive until it crashed / died and I lost them (the first time it happened I cried, then I got used to it happening and learned to be less attached to my photos). Now I upload the best to FB. Ironically (so far) evil FB means they get more love and attention from me and my friends than shoebox photos ever did, and are more reliably stored and protect than on my hard drive. Of course FB may not be here for ever.

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