Photo Documentation of an Everyday Activity

Goal: To learn how to attend to the details of the world of everyday activities.


  1. In this project you are going to take photos of an everyday social activity. First, choose an activity. It should be something that interests you and something to which you have access. It could be something you do with your family or with your roommates or friends. It could be an activity at your workplace, or in someone else’s workplace. The people involved in the activity should be adults 18 years of age or older. You should choose an activity where you can get close to the action, one that probably has some significant cognitive aspects you can observe. If you are unsure about your choice, please consult with your Professor. You must obtain the informed consent of participants in the activity before you take photos. The procedures for obtaining informed consent are described on the informed consent page. While you are obtaining that consent, also find at least one participant in the activity who will agree to talk to you about the activity later.
  2. Look ahead. This would be a good time to make contact with a community that will provide the data for the remainder of the class projects.
  3. Observe the activity for a while before taking pictures. Get a sense for the nature of the activity.
  4. Take pictures of the activity. Try to capture interesting aspects of the activity and the social and material environment in which it takes place. Take at least 15 shots.
  5. Carefully look at your pictures and choose 2 of them that you find most interesting.
  6. Carefully describe what you see in the two photos. Stick close to the data and pay attention. Look for evidence of cognitive activity. Hopefully, you will see things in the study of your photos that you did not see while observing the event live.

I assume you will use a digital camera for this assignment. The camera in your phone will even be fine, if it has sufficient resolution and a flash (if needed). If you do not have access to a digital camera, you can purchase an inexpensive disposable camera and have the film developed at, e.g., a CVS or Walgreens.

Maximum 800 words of text. Additional figures and tables (if they contribute to the description) are not included in the word count.

Due: 2/26


Download: Informed Consent Form

Credit to Ed Hutchins from whom I’ve adapted this project idea and taken some of the text for the directions.

3 thoughts on “Photo Documentation of an Everyday Activity

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