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Handling & Interacting with digital photos
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(Thesis Project)

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Umeå Institute

of Design


How could we, through a new way of handling and interacting with our digital photos, increase their emotional value in a way that also makes us aware of our digital consumption?

tools & methods







The smartphone has changed the act of photography by enabling users to whenever and wherever take a photo. Most people are nowadays walking around with thousands of pictures in their phone - pictures that they almost never look at. Photos are keys to our memories, our identity, which is why they are important. Nevertheless, the amount has made it an overwhelming task so sort them and photos are getting lost in the mass.


Most photos today simply get stored away on cloud servers, which is limitless. There they both become forgotten but can also potentially cause unnecessary CO2 emission, since it takes a lot of electricity to run the datacenters where they are stored. How could we through a new way of handling and interacting with our digital photos increase their emotional value in a way that at the same time makes us aware of our digital consumption?

watch a 3-minutes pitch




How many pictures do you have in your phone? When was the last time you actually looked at them?

quick numbers about photos

Statistics based on a survey I sent out in the beginning of this project

expert & user interviews


Psychologist who specializes in cognition


Tech Specialist focusing on how our digital lives affect the environment, 


Owner of digital photo book service



Everyday users, who use their mobile cameras daily 

You take 20 photos of the same "moment" with the idea that you will only keep the best - but in the end, you have 20 pictures from each occasion and you just scroll past them without really looking.

- Quote from interview

I've talked to many who say they have 6000 pictures on their hard drive that they can't sort. It's the same anxiety as having 6 shoeboxes with unsorted photos in the attic. We have now moved that problem away from us by storing all the photos in the "cloud". All of a sudden it's not "me" who has the shoe boxes in the attic but Google.” 

- Quote from interview

semi-remote workshop & ideation

To start the ideation phase, I organized a workshop. Those who participated were students from the Umeå School of Design, four on site and two via video link.

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key insight

Today we take photos for many different reasons, some taken to keep as memories and some only valuable in the moment!

Photo taken to turn moments into memories
Photo taken to create identity, through social media, etc
Photo taken as a way to communicate
Photo taken to remember something

long time use

short time use


concept development


carboard mockups of alternative phone cameras

A big part of the project was about redesigning the phone's existing camera. Therefore, it was specifically interesting to look at the interaction when a photo is taken. Four mock-ups of phones were created with different types of camera options. 


creating the identity



final result: pixels


Pixels enhance the emotional value in digital photos by allowing the user to interact with, prioritize, and categorize them right from the start. 

This way, users can shape a valuable product from their digital photos!

scenario: the every day with pixels


Anna chooses already when the photo is taken if it is something she might want to save for a longer time, as a memory by choosing the option "auto tag". 

Later the same day, she uses the "Short Time Use" tag for a photo of a shopping list. 

She also gets support from "The Helper" who sends her a notification while she is on the bus...


... She gets the suggestion to add some text and/or music to some photos  - this creates a Memory Section.

After this she can share this curated memory with her children.

But also send it to relatives living far away.

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re-design the act 

of taking a photo

At the moment the photo is taken, the user has the opportunity to add a tag. The first preset one is "Auto tag",  The second is "Short Time Use", for pictures taken with a more practical purpose only valuable for a shorter period of time. 

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Your "Short Time Use" photos

Use the tags as filters

View and edit your tags

Create new tags

currate Memory Sections from your photos

A photo collection that has been curated, by adding for example text or music creates a “Memory Section”. By spending time with the photos that really matter their emotional value increases!

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Hide content while scrolling

View your memories

Curate by adding content

View edited memory sections

use the helper to sort your photos

The Helper creates different tasks where the user has to sort and make a selection among their photos. By performing the various tasks, the users can see their progress but also information on how the tasks have contributed to a more sustainable digital lifestyle.

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Get Motivated

The Helper & Gamification

Do tasks

Get Reminded

PIXELS makes us aware of our digital consumption, by highlighting that we take photos for different reasons, as well as more connected to your memories!

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