Digital photographic practices as expressions of personhood and identity: variations across school leavers and recent retirees

Kathryn M. Orzech, Wendy Moncur, Abigail Durrant, Stuart James, John Collomosse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last two decades, digital photography has been adopted by young and old. Many young adults easily take photos, share them across multiple social networks using smartphones, and create digital identities for themselves consciously and unconsciously. Is the same true for older adults? As part of a larger mixed-methods study of online life in the UK, we considered digital photographic practices at two life transitions: leaving secondary school and retiring from work. In this paper, we report on a complex picture of different kinds of interactions with visual media online, and variation across age groups in the construction of digital identities. In doing so, we argue for a blurring of the distinctions between Chalfen’s ‘Kodak Culture’ and Miller and Edwards’ ‘Snaprs’. The camera lens often faces inwards for young adults: tagged ‘Selfies’ and images co-constructed with social network members commonly contribute to their digital identities. In contrast, retirees turn the camera’s lens outwards towards the world, not inwards to themselves. In concluding, we pay special attention to the digital social norms of co-creation of self and balancing convenience and privacy for people of varying ages, and what our findings mean for the future of photo-sharing as a form of self-expression, as today’s young adults grow old and retire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
Number of pages16
JournalVisual Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2017


  • digital photography
  • digital identities
  • online visual media
  • social norms

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  • Projects

    Charting the Digital Lifespan

    Moncur, W.

    Project: Projects from Previous Employment

    Research Output

    • 3 Citations
    • 1 Article

    Opportunities and challenges of the digital lifespan: views of service providers and citizens in the UK

    Orzech, K. M., Moncur, W., Durrant, A. & Trujillo-Pisanty, D., 17 Nov 2018, In : Information Communication and Society. 21, 1, p. 14-29 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 4 Citations (Scopus)

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