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The Trick to a Happy Family Vacation? Take Photos!
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  • On a family vacation, taking 100 photos on the first day is nothing, right? But, then, our husbands chide us for being a bit intense. Now you can tell now a study from an Ivy League university no less says taking photos can help us enjoy the vacation more. 

    A study from the Yale School of Management, examined the effects of taking pictures during, say, a holiday, and asked this question: will it take away all the fun you’re having because you’re looking at your experience from a screen? As it turns out, taking photos increases enjoyment and engagement of whatever it is you’re currently doing (going island-hopping perhaps).

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    Published in the Journal of Personality and Psychology, the study involved a series of three fields and six lab experiments. For one of them, researchers collected data from self-reported surveys. For another, they used eye-tracking glasses where visitors wore the spectacles at an art gallery. Researchers found that participants who took pictures of the experience spent longer examining the pieces on display. 

    “We show that photo-taking directs greater visual attention to aspects of the experience one may want to photograph,” writes researcher Gal Zauberman, along with two other co-authors. 

    “We find that taking photos enhances enjoyment of positive experiences across a range of contexts and methodologies,” adds the researchers. According to the results, these circumstances can include taking pictures during a bus tour, while enjoying a meal at a restaurant, or looking at art. 

    There are a few instances, however, were taking photos does NOT better your experience, according to the study. If the experience is already highly engaging (researchers tested this on participants actively working on a craft project), taking photos will not make it more enjoyable nor will it make it less so. Plus, when the act of taking a picture was intrusive to the experience, there were no benefits seen either. 

    In short, if you think you’ll be missing out on creating bonds, connections, and memories with your kids with a phone in your hand, then keep it in your bag or pocket. 

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    Taking pictures also didn’t help during negative experiences. In fact, snapping these moments made them even worse. Yale points out, the study is a first of kind so there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered. "Zauberman and his colleagues, for instance, dipped briefly into the effect of photo quantity on enjoyment: does taking more or fewer photos influence the degree to which people enjoy an experience? Is there a limit at which taking too many pictures starts to be a distraction?"

    It will take more studies to delve into those questions. But, for now, we can feel less guilty about snapping away incessantly.   

    Looking to take better photos of the kids on vacation? Here’s a good tip to remember: mind the people in the shot first, and the background second, says features editor Ed Hewitt of TravelIndependent.com. In comparison, what we usually do is find an interesting shot of a view (with the Tokyo Tower seen in the background, for instance) and then prop our family in front of it to take a photo. What we should do, though, is do it the other way around. 

    “Look around for a setting that will allow for good spacing and posing of the group,” says National Geographic. It will make sure all the kids are well-framed in your photo -- no awkward cropping or shots too far to see your kids’ expressions! Then think about “the added feature of showing their surroundings,” says NatGeo. Afterall, you’re capturing your kids’ smiling faces with the Mayon Volcano in the background, not the Mayon Volcano with some kids awkwardly framed at the side. 

    Happy travels -- and snap away!

    We want to see your family vacation photos. Tag us or message it via our Facebook page!

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