Including Yourself in Photos Says a Lot About You

Whether a photo is taken from a first-person or third-person perspective reflects an individual’s intent to capture either the physical experience or the deeper significance of an event, according to research conducted by investigators at the Ohio State University.

What to Know

  • It’s not necessarily vanity but more a matter of curating images to show either the physical experience of an event or its broader meaning that appear to be the main motivations for posting personal photos on sites like Instagram.

  • People have natural intuition about what they want out of the photo, whether it is a first-person perspective (capturing the scene as it looks from one’s own eyes) or a third-person perspective (documenting a moment with themselves in it).

  • In studying the impact of perspective in personal photography, the higher that participants rated what the event meant to them, the more likely they said they would take a photo with themselves in it.

  • Photos featuring how the scene looked from the person’s own visual perspective without them present in the picture itself made them think of the physical experience of being there.

  • Study participants had harsh assessments of their photos and didn’t like the pictures as much if there was a mismatch between the photo perspective and their goal in taking the photo.

This is a summary of the article, “Picturing Your Life: The Role of Imagery Perspective in Personal Photos,” published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science on April 27, 2023. The full article can be found on

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