London - When your view of a concert or a firework display is blocked by a forest of smartphones, it is easy to assume the photographers are missing out on the magic of the moment.
But it seems they are probably having a better time than you.
Scientists say that looking at life through a lens focuses our attention and so makes us feel more immersed in the experience.
Tests revealed sightseeing, museums, bus tours, lunches and even visiting farmers’ markets all seemed more fun when volunteers captured the experience on camera. In each case, half were asked to take pictures and everyone was asked afterwards how much they had enjoyed themselves.
The results consistently showed that those who took photos were more immersed in the experience and enjoyed themselves more.
Eye-tracking gadgets used on the museum visit revealed the photographers spent more time looking at exhibits. And lab tests revealed simply thinking about taking a picture was as enjoyable as taking one.
It is estimated the spread of smartphones will see the number of photos taken annually worldwide rocket from 0.3 trillion in 2010 to 1.3 trillion in 2017.
But the US researchers said that far from distracting us, photography forces us to focus on what we are doing and makes us feel more engaged with the experience. However, looking at something that is upsetting and photographing it makes us feel worse, reported the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Researcher Kristin Diehl, of University of Southern California, said: “While taking photos during an experience adds another activity, unlike traditional dual-task situations that divide attention, capturing experiences with photos actually focuses attention onto the experience, particularly on the aspects of the experience worth capturing.”