Captured and captioned: representing family life on Instagram

Ashley Barnwell, Barbara Barbosa Neves, Signe Ravn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines how practices of family photography are being transformed in the digital sphere, specifically on Instagram. While research on ‘digital intimacies’ focusses on romantic or peer interactions, the digital practices of families – especially intergenerational interactions – remain understudied. We use Janet Finch’s notion of ‘family display’ to consider how Instagram affords new modes of performing and sharing family life. This concept has exciting potential for media-rich online spaces, but so far, only a few studies examine how social media platforms extend the display of family practices. To explore family photography on Instagram, we analyse a sample of 200 Instagram posts. We argue that features specific to photo-sharing in digital spaces, such as hashtags, emojis and captions, open up new aspects of and audiences for family display. Our analysis paves the way for future research about how relationships are displayed across a range of digital platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-942
Number of pages22
JournalNew Media and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Digital intimacies
  • family display
  • family photography
  • family practices
  • hashtags
  • Instagram
  • intergenerational relationships
  • social media

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