Abstract “Photography as a networked practice in everyday life”

(accepted for the Digital Cameras as a Nexus in Everyday Life event. Helsinki. November 28-30)

Photography as a networked practice in everyday life: the case of a flickr group  in Barcelona

Edgar Gómez Cruz PhD.
Elisenda Ardèvol Piera PhD.
Internet Interdisciplinary Institute

The use of digital photography is transforming in great stance the role of photography in contemporary societies (Okabe & Ito, 2003; 2006). This paper is based on an ethnographic fieldwork of one year and a half with a group of photographers in the site flickr.com. The group, named “SortidazZ” is an amateur and snapshooters group in Barcelona.

In this research, digital photography is understood using a complementary approach: The Practice Theory approach (Reckwitz, 2002; Schatzki, Knorr-Cetina & Von Savigny, 2001) and as the sociotechnical network (Bijker & Law, 1994). Following Larsen:

Photography is so evidently material and social, objective and subjective, that is, heterogeneous. It is a complex amalgam of technology, discourse and practice. Photographic agency is a relational effect that first comes into force when a heterogeneous network of humans and non-humans is in place. (2008, p. 145)

The goal of this paper is twofold. On the one hand it discusses the main digital photographic practices of a heavy user group, and second, it describes the way the group is constituted and formed as a collective identity performing those practices. Two critical conclusions are proposed: the traditional role of snapshot and amateur photography is changing, from a memory device to a connectivity practice and from having a primary social cohesion role to be a key element in new groups formation. And second, that the formation of a “social network” goes beyond the specific technological platforms of mediation (flickr, Facebook, twitter, etc.). Although the studied group was born in flickr, their consolidation requires several instances online and offline where digital imagery practices plays a key role on it.


Bijker, W., & Law, J. (1994). Shaping technology/building society: Studies in sociotechnical change. Cambridge, Mass.(EUA): MIT Press.

Larsen, J. (2008). Practices and Flows of Digital Photography: An Ethnographic Framework. Mobilities, 3(1), 141-160.

Okabe, D., & Ito, M. (2003). Camera phones changing the definition of picture-worthy. Japan Media Review, 29.

Okabe, D., & Ito, M. (2006). Everyday Contexts of Camera Phone Use: Steps Toward Technosocial Ethnographic Frameworks. In J. Höflich & M. Hartmann (Eds.), Mobile Communication in Everyday Life: An Ethnographic View (pp. 79-102). Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Reckwitz, A. (2002). Toward a Theory of Social Practices. European Journal of Sociology, 5(2), 243-263.

Schatzki, T., Knorr-Cetina, K., & Von Savigny, E. (2001). The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. London: Routledge.