Brits turn to physical photos in lockdown

Lockdown has caused a digital burnout, as Brits become more sentimental and turn to physical photos to remind them about ‘the good times’, a study by Fujifilm Instax has revealed. The survey was conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom, December 2020.

After spending so much time indoors this year, 50 percent of Brits believe they’ve had enough of the digital life and have started to appreciate physical items again. As a result, almost six in 10 are turning to physical photos over their digital counterparts.

The study found nearly half of those who think there is a resurgence of printed photos this year now believe physical photos have ‘more value’ than digital ones, and the nation has become more sentimental as a result of the pandemic (46 percent). Almost a third (27 percent) also feel the novelty of only sharing their pictures online is wearing off.

The rise in popularity of physical photos has been attributed to people wanting more reminders of their ‘pre-Covid’ lives (33 percent) and thinking of the good-old days (37 percent). The prolonged lockdown restrictions (41 percent) have further fuelled the print revival as people have been sorting out and organizing, according to the study.

It has also emerged “real photos” are a mood booster. Sixty percent of Brits reported looking back on old photos when they’re feeling unhappy, stressed or looking for a way to cheer themselves up.

Psychologist Dr. Emma Hepburn said of this correlation between physical images and mood: “Research suggests that recalling positive personal memories can help elicit positive emotion and engage reward-related neural circuitry, which can be beneficial for wellbeing. Having these memories in physical form, for example, photographs around the house, can help create positive feelings on a daily basis when we see them.”

The study has shown that 43 percent of adults felt by simply looking at a physical photo their mood was boosted, compared to just 12 percent who said the same about digital images.

“Because of their physical nature, each photograph also has its own history,” says Dr. Hepburn. “So, we remember not only the event itself, but create memories and meaning around the physical object. We can feel attached to a photograph so the physical act of holding and looking at a photo creates emotions.”

“The level of demand we’ve seen for instax, as well as photo printing, very much affirms these survey results; we’ve seen instant camera and printer sales soar over the past five years, and demand has risen rapidly as we’ve come through lockdown and into a very busy Christmas period,” says Neill Harris, general manager, Fujifilm U.K. “Our consumer research tells us people love instant photography for its fun, retro appeal. That moment of anticipation, waiting for the photo to print. The fact it’s a unique, one-off image that can’t be replicated, edited or airbrushed, and not to be forgotten, the tactile nature of a real film print in your hand, all stand instant photography apart from digital images.”

This sentimental feeling has also spilled over into gifting choices this year. Almost one in five Brits (18 percent) have said lockdown has given them more time to plan their Christmas gifts this year, and 15 percent are more likely to give people a meaningful gift this year than in previous years.

The pandemic has also allowed people to get creative, with a fifth (20 percent) of Brits putting up more pictures in frames, and others spending time putting together old-school photo albums (13%) compared to before lockdown.

Top 5 reasons why physical photos are having a revival

  1. Real photos have more value than digital ones (49 percent)
  2. 2020 has meant people want more reminders of their loved ones around them (48 percent)
  3. People are becoming more sentimental (46 percent)
  4. A fear of losing digital photos if you have a tech issue (37 percent)
  5. The nostalgic element of the ‘good old days’ (37 percent)

Source: Fujifilm U.K. Instax Survey