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Photo carousels are taking over TikTok


Until recently, every day-in-the-life video on TikTok followed the same format: a series of clips taken throughout someone’s day with a voiceover providing context. Now, a new format is gaining momentum.

Daily vlogs are some of the most prolific edits on TikTok. The “day in the life” tag has over 10.5 billion views, and under it you can find a day-in-the-life video from just about any kind of person, from college students to corporate lawyers.

In September 2022, TikTok launched their slideshow feature, photo mode, which allows creators to post up to 35 photos in a carousel similar to Instagram. It was a marked shift in the video-first platform’s future strategy for audience retention and time spent on the app — and part of a larger trend of social media companies trying to be the only social destination on the internet. TikTok automatically cycles through these slideshows at an extremely slow pace, but you can also take matters into your own hands and swipe through them yourself.

When photo mode first dropped, TikTok became inundated with carousels of memes, photos, and quotes recycled from other platforms, but now slideshows are being used in a more inventive way: for day-in-the-life content.

A creator can now take you through an outing or an entire day, moment by moment, by creating a slideshow of irreverent photos with silly captions all punctuated with quirky emojis. And I mean moment by moment; they are taking full advantage of the 35-photo maximum. It’s similar to the “my 2022 eras” trend where TikTokkers utilized photo mode to document all their 2022 eras, but on a much smaller scale, which makes the photos messier and more interesting to a nosey viewer.

The trend is more in line with chaotic photo dumps and the unfiltered nature of BeReal than the highly aestheticized day-in-the-life vlogs that dominate the platform. This points to an overall shift in how young people are ditching curated perfection for more naturalism.

As a vocal hater of photo mode, I was surprised by how charming I find this new style of day-in-the-life videos. In one, user @aniyahmaorinia(Opens in a new window) takes us to a ballet class, and in another, @justjazzyidk(Opens in a new window) wakes up, goes to the gym, and gets Starbucks. It’s totally mundane, and yet the trend assumes a level of familiarity with the viewer and feels like more like you’re being Snapchatted by the creator or watching their close friends Story on Instagram. For example, in a video posted by @_partrickkelly(Opens in a new window), he gets ready for work and does his morning commute before captioning one photo with, “Wait ummm I had no clue I had a 9am call.”

So much more fun than a traditional vlog.
Credit: TikTok / @_patrickkelly, @justjazzyidk

While there is still a level of hyper-awareness on the creator’s part, it appears to be less effort for them and more a more authentic presentation of their digital self, which makes it more enjoyable for me to watch.

So, yeah, photo dumps are the new daily vlogs. You heard it here first.


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