‘THESE SNAPS ARE MADE FOR TALKING’: VISUAL COMMUNICATION AND INSTANT EXPRESSION ON SNAPCHAT

Camilla Michelle Best

Abstract


This study analyses Snapchat in the context of digital photography and new socio-cultural visual communication practices through three main themes: Temporality, Sharing and Self. By contextualising personal photography on Snapchat within current research on these three main themes, this study addresses the key research question: in what ways does Snapchat represent a shift in image sharing and visual communication practices in the contexts of digital photography and social media cultures?

Since the emergence of digital photography, there is widespread agreement that photography’s main function has shifted from memory preservation to communication. This research project finds that Snapchat both extends and intensifies this trajectory. The ephemerality of the photos shared on Snapchat places greater emphasis on visual communication in the _present_ moment. Based on semi-structured interviews, this research explores young adults’ use of Snapchat in the contexts of digital photography, photo sharing cultures and the social media landscape. This research offers a preliminary qualitative analysis of how Snapchat’s temporal affordances have allowed new kinds of visual communication practices to emerge, along with an understanding of motives for Snapchat communication, and Snapchat’s utility as a platform for self-presentation, communicating affect and maintaining social ties.

Keywords


Snapchat, digital photography, social media, identity, temporality

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