Funny Comic Takes on the Idea that Taking Photos Takes Away from Experience


It’s a pretty popular opinion these days: taking photos keeps you from experiencing the moment. It’s why concert venues and musicians are starting to ban photography, and why the top comment on the video of Dubai’s record setting fireworks show we shared was reprimanding the people in the video who were viewing it all through a cell phone screen.

Randall Munroe of the sarcastic and often hilarious web comic XKCD begs to differ, however, and he’s doing it through the comic above. Check it out for yourself and feel free to tell us what you think about the comic’s point of view in the comments down below.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Sam!

  • Leonnerd

    I think it is an individual view of the situation. I personally believe that it is subject if someone clicking a subject is enjoying the subject or not. People click things keeping in mind the likes this shot will get instead of enjoying what they are clicking.

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    Here’s the thing. I’ve actually had lots of fun times, little adventures, experiences, and “moments”, just because I wanted to photograph something. The end goal of photography led to that experience.

    Now on the other hand, if you’re at a concert or some other sort of live event, don’t be that guy recording the entire thing on your iPhone or experiencing it through the LCD on your camera. Put the damn thing down and enjoy the show. You’re never going to watch it again anyway.

  • Will Mederski

    VERY well played.
    i recently had a FELLOW PHOTOGRAPHER whining about my frequency of photographing with my D7000.
    sadly, he fit right into the hating hipster stereotype with his Hasselblad.

    critiquing an artist’s output is one thing, but it reminded me of a creativity-crushing teacher i had in middle school to hear such discouragement come from a fellow creative.

  • harumph

    “…taking photos keeps you from experiencing the moment. It’s why concert venues and musicians are starting to ban photography…”

    Concert venues and musicians are banning photography for a lot of reasons, but because it keeps the photographer from experiencing the moment isn’t one of them.

  • BigWorm

    Yeah, particularly because it keeps the people behind them from experiencing the moment.

  • harumph


  • bob cooley


  • markz

    somebody censored a XKCD comic? well f**k me what a cotton wool wrapping kill joy.

    while we all hate the arsehole who stands up front of stage and videos/photographs a whole performance with his/her camera/phone/phablet/fondleslab held up in our direct line of sight I’ve never felt there was anything wrong with the odd snapshot.

    quite the opposite

    I’d sooner share a slightly blurry underexposed snapshot of someone’s peak moment of an event/holiday than stare at a technically brilliant but truly coma inducing graphical wankfest (no names but Mr Wall I’m talking about half your work here).

    hell snapshots are what took the industry and it’s technology out of 8×10 wetplates with dubious toxic/explosive chemical processes and eventually gave us our DSLR/EVIL/Camera phone’s that we love and tribally defend on internet forums

  • Josh

    Hey, guys, did you notice that this XKCD comic is creative commons licensed in a way that prohibits commercial use? All those ads on this page would seem to make this use qualify as commercial…

  • markz

    na that’s more about putting it behind a paywall or selling it as dead tree copies (or using your own webcomic then wanting to sell it back to you plus their reviews about (Ziff Davis this may, allegedly, be you))

    Randell’s pretty OK with this (Petapixel’s posting) sort of thing, it happens often enough and the main focus of his posts are to encourage the discussion not to rake in the bucks

  • markz

    ps: from the site’s own “about” , so as a blog PP’s explicitly allowed to repost:

    Can we print xkcd in our magazine/newspaper/other publication?

    If it’s a not-for-profit publication, you need no permission — just print them with attribution to If it’s a for-profit operation, I will probably give you permission if you email me to let me know. You can post xkcd in your blog (whether ad-supported or not) with no need to get my permission.

  • Sterling

    Of course, that’s the exact problem. I don’t think many people really give a damn how some solitary person experiences a sunset. The problem occurs when every parent in the poorly lit gym holds an iPad over their head to capture the moment. How people experience things is only a problem when it disrupts how someone else might like to experience it.

  • Renato Murakami

    Reminder for the unaware (wat?): All XKCD comics have a punchline hidden on the original website (mouseover the image). Go take a look…

  • nikonian

    Additionally when someone (at least me) is hired to shoot a concert (which I immerse myself into the experience) it is very annoying to always have many cellphone and dslr sneakers constantly blocking me or interrupting a moment I was focusing on to get a shot they probably will never use or that is identical to 20,000 other amateur shots taken at the given venue.

  • Guest

    “Funny comic” doesn’t quite get it. It’s called having sympathy for those people who have unnoticeably developed a barrier between themselves and the real world.

  • http://www.uranus.tyt/ KoRnH0Li0

    Yeah, these performing artists don’t want their pictures taken while they’re picking their noses and stuffs like that. These kind of pictures always go viral on the internet when they come out. That’s the number one reason I could think of.

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    Whoah there, hang on a beat cowboy. A Hasselblad?
    I’m not sure you understand what a “hipster” is. :-)

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    I was at my kids school’s Christmas musical, and some idiot lady was holding her frigging iPad over her head for the entire 20 minutes.

  • James

    Lol like how Beyonce was called a satainist for making grunting faces on stage.

  • James

    I feel your pain. We need more stache your camera policies.

  • James

    Should have said leica.

  • MaxM

    Because those small cameras allow people to strive to achieve shots like Wall’s are what brought the ‘industry’ out of other formats, but many professional photographers and artists alike still prefer larger formats; larger format = better quality. Can’t argue with that. There’s a difference between the consumer market and the ‘industry’ of photography as a whole. But I agree with your point that more portability = more efficiency.

  • MaxM

    I doubt many ‘hipsters’ can afford a Leica or a Hasselblad—maybe AE-1 or the like.

  • MaxM

    Your example made me think of this popular one :-)

  • Joaosaleao

    It’s all a matter of moderate the way you use your camera… It happen to me, when photographing my kids in a school show I end losing big part of it becouse I saw it through my viewfinder … Today I stop shooting from time to time, and guess what, I end up losing some great pictures cause I was not ready…. You just have to chose what you want to miss!

  • nope

    I really don’t care how other people enjoy themselves. The problem is that at a concert, your photography is detracting from OTHERS’ enjoyment of the experience.

    Beyond that, sunset and skyline photos are boring as hell.

  • James

    You’d be surprised, I always thought I was a “rich kid”… then I went to college.

  • Matt

    I loved the comic, sums up my point a view pretty well. Thought it might provoke more discussion here though,you know a few more “people are not doing what I want them to do” kind of things.
    I have to be honest, I have not been to a concert in a while. But, I found tall people to be a problem (which for me is more than I would like) of blocking my view and taking away from my experience. So…

  • Unmaivilambi

    Not agreeable. There is a marked difference between a photographer planning a trip to a particular spot to capture a particular moment and a haphazard spectator trying desperately to capture an event on his/her mobile device and worrying about capturing it correctly rather than enjoying that moment.

  • Omar Salgado

    It is not about the experience; it is about possession.

  • Omar Salgado

    Possession and approval.

    That goes with the running times.

  • Aurelio Anatra

    ” It’s why concert venues and musicians are starting to ban photography”

    That is not why they ban photographs. Two reasons:

    1. They don’t want to be caught in some inappropriate act or rant.

    2. They want to make money in the pictures from the photographers they control.

    The could care less if you are not experiencing the moment. If that was the case, they would ban pot, drinking, talking to your friends, etc…..

    By the way the statement “It’s a pretty popular opinion these days: taking photos keeps you from experiencing the moment” Is that from a scientific study or just what you think is a popular opinion.