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Want to remember something? Don't take a photo

By dpreview staff on Dec 14, 2013 at 09:00 GMT
A young couple takes a 'selfie' at Seattle's Pike's Place Market. (Photo by Richard Butler/DPReview.com) 

Nowadays we snap photos of every detail of our lives — the food we eat, what our cat is doing, the quirky things we see, the places we go — and we do this in an effort document and remember those experiences.

But a new study, published in Psychological Science, suggests it's possible that the act of taking pictures may actually lessen our ability to recall the details of a subject.  

Researcher Linda Henkel of Fairfield University in Connecticut took university students on a guided museum tour and asked them to observe some objects and photograph others. The results of the study are interesting:

'If participants took a photo of each object as a whole, they remembered fewer objects and remembered fewer details about the objects and the objects’ locations in the museum than if they instead only observed the objects and did not photograph them.'

Other findings from the study also revealed an exception: 

'However, when participants zoomed in to photograph a specific part of the object, their subsequent recognition and detail memory was not impaired, and, in fact, memory for features that were not zoomed in on was just as strong as memory for features that were zoomed in on.'

Henkel told the New York Daily News: 'When people rely on technology to remember for them — counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves — it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.'

So a picture may be worth a thousand words, but if you can't remember what happened, it may not be worth anything at all. 

What's your experience in recalling details of events or places from photographs you've taken? 

Comments

Total comments: 185
123
Banaan
By Banaan (4 months ago)

It is said that photography teaches us how to see. learning how to see through Photography is also hailed as a means to fight things like alzheimer's disease.

Conclusion this article seems to have arrived at is that it's not the photo that counts as a memory aide, it's how you take them.

aka it's how you looked, / sought to see

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Serge Yavorski
By Serge Yavorski (4 months ago)

Non-issue. If you don't remember, look at the photo and you will. For me, actually, it's quite the opposite. I remember things that I photographed more than if I did not.

0 upvotes
Allen James Walker
By Allen James Walker (4 months ago)

I think there is some truth in this. I can remember going to the Isle of Mull in Scotland in January 2000. We were walking down alongside a sea loch and the local we were with thought he could hear otters. We went down to the edge of the water and sure enough there were two pups playing on the bank whilst their mother was eating a fish. We were stood no more than six feet away from them.
At that point the father popped up out of the water with an octopus in its mouth and dumped it in front of the pups.
It was an incredible moment and I remember cursing the fact that I had no camera with me (these were pre-smartphone days).
However, because of that I was able to totally absorb the event in a way that I couldn't have done if I was trying to take a picture. I remember (or think I remember) every detail of the moment and it still fills me with joy that I had the priviledge of seeing something like that happen. I simply don't need a photo for that.

2 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (4 months ago)

I call false dichotomy! For some of us photography IS life. If we're not taking pictures we're not really there.

0 upvotes
Cjar
By Cjar (4 months ago)

Why does it have to be an either-or?

I use my smartphone camera to capture things I don't need to remember for long periods, such as a flyer for an event that interests me.

I agree that access to technology is negatively affecting our memories and social awareness.

0 upvotes
gulati
By gulati (4 months ago)

As memory fades (which is happening with increased frequency!), photos become anchors to events. I use photos to help fill in the blanks, and to keep memories from evolving into happenings that didn't really happen. The main problem I have with taking too many pictures (especially on a trip) is that I begin to live through the viewfinder, and don't enjoy the richness of the total experience. I need to strike a balance between looking through the camera and capturing those special frozen moments, and simply enjoying life as it unfolds.

4 upvotes
rob destrube
By rob destrube (4 months ago)

I echo gulati's response. We photogs tend on travels to be hungry, predatory, photographers hunting the next shot to the exclusion of the moment at hand. And, while we later relive and remember details of the trips through our photographs we can find the memories either amplified by the pix or pretty much all that we remember about the trip. I recall while exploring Venice with my wife, feeling totally absorbed in the mania of capturing "everything', when she pointed out an apparently exceptional detail in the flowers and balcony of a building beside us. I, ever scanning ahead and around, glanced at her suggestion and in an instant decided that it was unworthy: it didn't fit a 2x3 composition and I immediately went back to my mania. To this day she remarks on that beautiful balcony and I have no recollection of it at all. What I have come away with most importantly in this story is the need for balance. Otherwise it can mean that nobody gets anything.

0 upvotes
Fgerviti
By Fgerviti (4 months ago)

This is true if and only if we take a photo Instead of taking the time to observe. If we only take a photo after carefully observing we will remember not because of the photo but because the attention.

2 upvotes
GCHYBA
By GCHYBA (4 months ago)

That may have some validity, and I've found that it's very important to take the shot, and then put the camera away and sit down and observe, taking it all in, and not always thinking about photographing, which I do... :)

0 upvotes
David Hart
By David Hart (4 months ago)

I have no problems remembering the scenes and narritive around my photos. Maybe it's because I'm not trying to force it or trying to capture every moment or every scene. I wait for inspiration and simply take a photo of scenes that I find unique or interesting in some small way. This allows me to experience the activity or moment without "having" to take a picture.

While there have been times when I would have wished to have taken a photo, there isn't once where I would have wished to have missed the moment....

0 upvotes
Claude Nemry
By Claude Nemry (4 months ago)

I took thousands and thousands of pictures since I was 18. I am 79 now. I made a lot of trips in Europe, in North America, in Carribeans, in Asia, in Africa, alone or with a group of friends, for business or for tourism. From fifty and more years ago, I was always the guy who rememberd the best and the most of our trips, landscapes, people, restaurants, hotels, camps, exhibitions, customs, etc, even before having got the photografs I took. I am convinced that taking pictures helped me to remember a lot more and it is the opinion of my companions. Sorry for the science !

0 upvotes
KJaay
By KJaay (4 months ago)

When I look back at my vacation images from 30 year ago, they bring back many memories I had forgotten. Yet while ( last year) in Disney Land if I tried to take shots of every feature in a ride, I did not enjoy the ride as much as when I was more selective with my photo taking. Of course taking 2 rides one for photo's and one just to enjoy was the best.
In Yellowstone Park it was different, the landscape shots brought back more memories because of the time it took to set up the photos, you know, the right angle, the correct exposure etc. One thing for sure, the photo's from 30 years ago bring back memories I thought were long forgotten!

The article might be right if the photographer is just taking snapshots and not taking the time to enjoy each object, but also, long term memory is a different thing.

1 upvote
mrdancer
By mrdancer (4 months ago)

I find the most memorable and thought-provoking photos to be candid ones, not staged. As an example, a shot of the kitchen or living room in your home or apartment from 20 or 30 years ago can stir up thousands of memories, whereas a shot of your sibling or friend in the same room with tons of bokeh may stir only a memory or two.

In the last year, there was a camera featured that you wear as a pendant on your neck and it would take pictures periodically throughout the day. Many had poo-pooed the idea, but it does have some merit. The only downside is that no one wants to sort through hundreds or thousands of pics at the end of the day. So maybe a camera that shoots hi-res with no bokeh at random times, maybe a couple dozen shots per day, automatically stored in folders labeled by date. You can check them out 30 years from now and relive some old memories.

And yes, I have missed the total immersion of the experience because I was too focused on getting a great shot.

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (4 months ago)

True with fine detail of a subject, person or location, but this would mostly concern the shooter that's just taking photos without caring much for the scene instead of enjoying the moment. Yes, the twitter/instagram/FB whatever social peeps that want to let everyone know what they're doing and show proof that they're "living the life" when in reality they are just snapping away and not paying much attention at all, it's their "followers" that will see the photos and not themselves it seems too.

Really, this phenomenon of memory may concern those that decide to rely on taking a photo to examine and even experience something later as they "move on" to the next attraction, by viewing the photos or even video when they get a chance. But, few ever do. So many times I would here "Oh I took so many photos but can't get to looking through them". Like recording a show you would miss, but end up never getting around to watching it, how would you remember something you never really saw?

2 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (4 months ago)

"zoomed in on" - somebody needs to go back to school.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (4 months ago)

I'm a photo professor and I find this comment a hair's width petty.

1 upvote
RichardBalonglong
By RichardBalonglong (4 months ago)

I looked at the photographs I captured 10 years ago, seeing those photographs immediately reminds me of those days and reminded me we had lots of fun... Without those photographs I captured before, I have totally forgotten about those days...
Well... My experience contradicts the article...

4 upvotes
Noogy
By Noogy (4 months ago)

Say that to me when I'm 85 years old!

1 upvote
new boyz
By new boyz (4 months ago)

Some say it is correct for short term.. as you can recall details later from the pictures you have taken. I think this is exactly the point of the study. We are confident that all our memories will be safe in those hard disks. As a result, we didn't enjoy the moment and busy taking photos instead. This is especially true during concerts - people raised their iPhones(even iPads!) to record the concert. It makes me wonder - If you don't enjoy the moment, then what's the purpose of coming to a concert? Isn't it better just to buy the CD of the concert? Because that's exactly what they are doing - making CD of the concert.

Now, some may argue that in 10 years, even the one who didn't take photos will forget everything and photos will be useful in helping us remember things. True, but who will remember better? I bet the one who enjoys the moment. But, if nobody takes photos, we will not have photos to look at in the future. Well, true again but that's what an official photographers is for.

6 upvotes
RPJG
By RPJG (4 months ago)

Sure, but hopefully very few people spend nearly 100% of their time looking at the back of their camera/iPhone/etc! You can watch the concert (or whatever event) *and* take the occasional photo.

And to answer your possibly-rhetorical question, being there is obviously entirely different from listening to a CD, even if you spend 10-20-wahtever% of the time taking photos or video.

3 upvotes
Monochrom
By Monochrom (4 months ago)

I work as a TV cameraman, and one of the biggest annoyances these days are people holding there smartphones overhead to record concerts etc.
While they can record our efforts with a harddiskrecorder at home, buy the DVD or watch the concert after a few days on Youtube. And that recording will be steady, multiangled, close up and with the best possible sound.
Instead they will record it in poor quality and post it on facebook and Youtube just to proof they were there.

4 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (4 months ago)

1% of the concerts are recorded by the TV. They never occur in small clubs e.g. or in case of not so big stars.

1 upvote
Monochrom
By Monochrom (4 months ago)

It's pretty obvious when concerts are being recorded. Big camera's in front of the stage, camera's on stage, extra lights...

0 upvotes
bb42
By bb42 (4 months ago)

The finding of the study may be correct for shorter term memory.
But from my experience the pictures clearly help me to remember places and situations I would otherwise forget within weeks and longer.
And this is the peroid that counts more, be it work, study or leisure.

Sometimes I take a picture for being able to study an object on screen with more attention than I would at the time of shooting. So of course its a question of time economy.

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (4 months ago)

1. "asked to either photograph or try and remember objects on display"

So what if you try to remember and take a photo? Best of all worlds?

The whole study feels meh. Obvious. The results are basically: if you try to remember you will remember more.

She found in the same "study" that if you zoom in on a feature the "photo impairment" goes away suggesting that if you have even a mild interest in your subject, then impairment is a non-issue.

1 upvote
RikMaxSpeed
By RikMaxSpeed (4 months ago)

I'm always enjoy reliving things I did two or five years ago - thanks to the many photographs I took at the time - I'm sure that at that time horizon the photographs provide valuable anchor points on which to build memories!

1 upvote
Sabatia
By Sabatia (4 months ago)

Last fall I was in Yellowstone doing photography, but also keeping my eyes open for special moments. One afternoon I was standing there with a group of 25 or so people waiting for a geyser to spout. As it started going off, I noticed a coyote with two young just beyond and got a great shot of them with the mist from the geyser casting a rainbow over the scene. I tried to alert the other folks, but they were too busy posing family members in front of the geyser. Suddenly a big bull elk ran by with a wolf hot on its tail. Again, I was the only one who saw it as everyone was too busy trying to get the set shot that they didn't see this amazing scene only seventy-five or so feet away. I got two of my best shots of my three months out there while everyone else just got more pictures of their family to add to the hundreds or thousands they already had.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
Peter Lacus
By Peter Lacus (4 months ago)

very nice story which explains a lot about the matter...

0 upvotes
Monochrom
By Monochrom (4 months ago)

That's what i noticed to. People are only interested in pictures of themselves in front off a famous subject. And even worse, some step over a wire or fence to actually stand ON that subject, thereby damaging it.
That even happens in a museum.

0 upvotes
phmatsuo
By phmatsuo (4 months ago)

I guess that people with the cameras were more worried about camera settings, then they got distracted.

1 upvote
Deutsch
By Deutsch (4 months ago)

Another one of her articles related to photos and what you actually recall, or assume:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22185399

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (4 months ago)

a weapon can kill either a foe or a friend,
it's not wrong tool but wrong doing.

1 upvote
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (4 months ago)

That's why I enjoy photography the most when it is about playing around and molding the reality, ratherthan just documenting it. Or, documenting is ok if nothing happens, still lifes. Photographing people, portraits, preferably beautiful women. Now that's something worthwhile.

2 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (4 months ago)

That's what my father did. Quit taking photos.

"It's not so necessary to take photographs of everything", he said and quit.

I think he had some visdom in that. He was very talented as a photographer, keen enthusiast and his photos were better than what you usually see in magazines, could have easily made it to his profession, but so what. He had a better one. A more important one. So he quit. He wanted to experience things, and concentrate on them while they were happening, instead of worrying about the best angle and bokeh. :)!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Bluetrain048
By Bluetrain048 (4 months ago)

Been saying this for years.

Mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools. A camera only captures photons, and there's more to it than that. You can't fully appreciate anything if your mind is elsewhere.

1 upvote
Andre Salvador
By Andre Salvador (4 months ago)

I do not agree. I take pictures to remember it better. I use RAW format in almost all my photos. After processing it, I research on the photos I took, prior to uploading it in my website. I do not take pictures every four steps that I take. I have done this for years and I am it even helped my memory.

I agree with raybabies.

Andre' Salvador
http://andresalvador.smugmug.com/

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Chev Chelios
By Chev Chelios (4 months ago)

Couldn't agree more with this article. So many times I've spent too long looking through the viewfinder, snapping away at an event, and then straight afterwards I wonder to myself what it was I saw exactly.

At my kids' school Christmas production this year the camera stayed in my pocket for 99% of the time, and I made sure I just took in the production with no distractions like taking photos to worry about. It was quite refreshing. And all around me parents were basically watching their kids via the 3.5in displays on their mobile phones and cameras.

2 upvotes
mario7
By mario7 (4 months ago)

Nonsense

2 upvotes
huyzer
By huyzer (4 months ago)

That explains my bad memory! :)

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (4 months ago)

photography, or any work or hobby are done in the old OODA loop
observe, orient, decide, act, and observe again

before one takes photograph he has to plan first (which is much more important than pressing shutter button), or orient and decide based on previous observation/experience, to prepare oneself for events happening. after the session, one will review and process the images when the events flashback for better memorization.

and people get more oriented, concentrated, and remember well with a task, even all the images are thrown away later (for a fake task). so better take photos even you don't want to keep any (but keep the memory).

there is one thing that I agree with the writer:
one should not peeping into a small hole too much and get lost.

Comment edited 5 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (4 months ago)

I highly recommend taking photos even when all the memory cards are full, like pretending to take a (group) portrait, talk with people, smile, press the shutter, fire the flash, and enjoy the moment.

you will remember it if you really enjoy it.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
gerard boulanger
By gerard boulanger (4 months ago)

Best way to remember details: write them, less time spent than process RAW files.

0 upvotes
sh10453
By sh10453 (4 months ago)

I didn't know a psychologist can be called a "scientist"!!!

I always learned that science deals with theory and facts; facts that are usually indisputable.
Not sure how much in psychology you could label as indisputable facts, if any.

For someone to take a few students on a field trip, then publish her findings to the world as "science" is perplexing, and amusing to me. That goes a long way to tell me about how psychology professors do their research!

I think she herself needs to see a psychologist, but a good one, if there are any!

Keep on shooting, guys and girls. Twenty years down the road, when you look at your pictures, you'll have a vivid memory of every one of them.

Just my humble opinion, and my 2-cents. You are of course entitled to your own opinion.
For me, this study (if you can call it a study) is ridiculous, and is dismissed.

Alison looks good in the picture :) ... if I recall her name correctly (again, dealing with memory)! :)

2 upvotes
Arch C
By Arch C (4 months ago)

sh10453,
I don't see your point, just by not agreeing with the article you have to poo-poo the writer and what she stands for?
If you had two cents your would understand and make your own conclusions, whether you agree or not.
I'm not a psychologist but your remarks are childish and add nothing. I think its more like half a cent if such.

0 upvotes
Dvlee
By Dvlee (4 months ago)

Yes...psychology is a science...so is economics, film making, fashion design, auto racing... even photography. it's not so much what the subject is that makes it science, it's how it is studied or practiced. When we cook an omelet, there are a lot of chemical processes going on. When we just blend the ingredients and toss them in a pan we are practicing the act of cooking but not the science. When we endeavor to understand the processes involved and experiment with different ingredients, proportions and methods in order to cook the perfect omelet, we are engaging in the science of cooking and at the same time mastering the art. Art itself is science, as we not only need to learn the processes and technology of the craft, but also the science of perception and aesthetics.

2 upvotes
Peter Lacus
By Peter Lacus (4 months ago)

Yes and no. Yes, I have strong memories from my travels when I had no camera at all. Strong, but usually vague (you know those "distant memories" et al.). But when I look at the photographs, all those captured places and events come alive again. So yes, I'll carry on capturing my experiences for the time being... ;)

2 upvotes
hockey_magnet
By hockey_magnet (4 months ago)

I agree - this experiment only concerns short term memory - ask these students about the experience in 1, 3, 5, 10 years and see how much they remember - My feeling is that they would remember next to nothing about the details. Also I believe the results would depend on HOW the photos were taken. If they were instructed to take a photo that interpreted what they were seeing in some way, I think the results would be much different. Of course if you just blast away with no thought, you are not going to remember something in the short term as well as if you just look at it.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Michael J Davis
By Michael J Davis (4 months ago)

Some 50 years ago, I gave up photography temporarily because I found I was living the experience as a photograph, rather than using the photograph to recall the experience.

Since then, and on taking up photography to record experiences and places, I find that I can look at a photograph and recall exactly where I was when I took the photograph, what else was around that I didn't take, and what I had to go through and past to get the photograph. In short - my photographs capture the whole experience for me!

So in general I disagree.

Mike

3 upvotes
mr_landscape
By mr_landscape (4 months ago)

100% agreed.

1 upvote
tripodfan
By tripodfan (4 months ago)

My holidays aren't so much fun and best forgotten anyway. That's why I bought a DSLR.

2 upvotes
jantar
By jantar (4 months ago)

There is a logical mistake in arguments of the (quite limited) research. People make pictures to remember better. Their purpose to look back at them days, months or years after. They help to remember the details a context that should be otherwise long time forgotten. But of course, if you don't look first and shoot continuously and never print pics or even look back at them (as it happens nowadays often) a very little will remains in the memory in any case...

0 upvotes
sean000
By sean000 (4 months ago)

I'm not buying it. I have much more detailed memories of places I have been when I have photographed the place. I like to explore the places I go with a camera, and in the process I feel like I see things most people don't. Sometimes my wife will look at a detail shot of a place we went together, and she won't remember that detail. I always do. I remember it vividly. But photographers see in ways casual snap shooters do not. When a photographer takes a photograph, there is more thought put into it... so perhaps this study rings closer to true for casual snap shooters. I think there is also a time for photos and a time to be present in the moment. If you are too busy taking photos to be part of the scene instead of an observer, you won't remember as much.

8 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (4 months ago)

"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if you can't remember what happened, it may not be worth anything at all."

3 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (4 months ago)

Actually the problem might be the viewfinder -- use the display. For memories you don't need a perfect framing and at home you can reframe the best photos anyway mainly if you intend to distribute it on the net. For the net you need <2Mpix your camera has >10Mpix.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 33 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
vFunct
By vFunct (4 months ago)

Look at all these scientists with their own research disproving this one!

Didn't know we had so many scientists on this site.

Everyone that posts is SO awesome! They must be superior to other inferior people!

3 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (4 months ago)

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
― Albert Einstein

2 upvotes
straylightrun
By straylightrun (4 months ago)

This is a study on humans. Since we're all humans, I'm pretty sure we get some sort of say in this.

0 upvotes
Dvlee
By Dvlee (4 months ago)

Some people act as if scientists are Gods and the scientific method is infallible. I have worked in the sciences long enough and known enough scientists to know that neither of those things are true. And I have known as many non scientists that were as intelligent and as capable of studying something and drawing conclusions as credentialed scientists are. Because the non scientists studies were not conducted with the scientific method does not necessarily mean they are invalid, in fact many scientific studies are conducted simply to confirm what has already been concluded through anecdotal observation by ordinary people. My experience has been that if I assigned 2 individual scientists to separately undertake a study to answer a particular question, they would both use different methods and come up with different results. This is especially true with medical, psychological and sociological studies which have many variables and require large sample groups to overcome. Even then . . .

2 upvotes
locke_fc
By locke_fc (4 months ago)

Yes, just like most people in Copernicus' times thought they had a say on the heliocentric theory because they all saw the sun rise and set every single day. They felt entitled to have a say, and yet they were basing their opinion on subjective, non-scientific data. And of course they were wrong.

1 upvote
GradyBeachum
By GradyBeachum (4 months ago)

Yes, but most photographers think the world revolves around them...

0 upvotes
leeruikang
By leeruikang (4 months ago)

Photographs can act as retrieval cues for recalling that particular moment of your INTEREST. Why do photographers take photographs? Because a particular subject caught their interest in the first place. When something catches our interest, we pay more attention to it. Information about that object would be rehearsed in our memory more then others, which results in deeper encoding. The photographs would be the best retrieval cues for memories pertaining to that object. This study is flawed because the researchers did not take this into account. The participants being unable to remember details about an object could simply be due to the fact that the object did not interest him/her in the first place. If we were to pay attention to every single detail around us we would be cognitively overloaded.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ButterflySkies
By ButterflySkies (4 months ago)

My personal experience disagres with this study.
I have hundreds of moments where I wished I had a camera back then and took a picture, because its just a fuzzy memory to me now.
And I don't think I have any memory issues with moments I took a picture, and if I have, I have images to look at.
And there is that road trip I did 10 years ago where I remember the images I took, I don't remember the actual moments, but I do remember the images, which helps me rememeber the actual moments, and I lost thoes image like 8 years ago.
I did another road trip 7 years ago, and I didn't have a camera with me that time, and I can't remember much of it at all. But my sister had a camera, and looking through her images helps me remember alot.
So in my case, I do rememeber more with images, especially when I view them multiple times in the edit-sort-storage process.

2 upvotes
WordyDave
By WordyDave (4 months ago)

This is my experience exactly. When you have a poor memory to begin with, 50 year-old pictures are all you have left to enjoy. Just have your photographic memory relatives fill in the blanks!

1 upvote
Rod McD
By Rod McD (4 months ago)

The researchers methodology seems to have concerned the short term. I doubt these conclusions in relation to the long term. I've taken photographs most of my life of family and social events. The photographs I have of my father, my brothers and my wife, all of whom have passed away, are precious because they keep my memories alive long term. I'm sometimes surprised when I look through them, that there are moments that I only actively recall when I see them - they jog my mind to recall the situation. I do recall them, so they're buried away in my grey matter, but I don't think my mind would be triggered to think of all those situations if I didn't see the photographs.

3 upvotes
Bob Meyer
By Bob Meyer (4 months ago)

It would be more accurate to say "Want to remember short term? Don't take a photo." But test memories a year later, after I've reviewed the photos I took, and the non-photographers rely only on their minds, and I bet the results would be very different.

The study seems valid, but the conclusions being drawn overly broad.

2 upvotes
AlanG
By AlanG (4 months ago)

Now I have a good excuse for my poor memory.

1 upvote
MarkByland
By MarkByland (4 months ago)

I recall every single thing about the frame while composing and making the photo. It seems that the second the mirror flips up out of the way as I look through the (real optical) finder that the connection was made and that memory is now burned in my mind. It's been happening more and more to me as of recent. I can't stand live view because it, for me, removes that experience - that connection to the subject. I feel projected LCD live view is a fictitious scene, though I know it's not, it just doesn't have the same feel as using an optical finder or fresnel focusing back like say on a view camera. It's not the real thing, it's a projected image. The mind has a tendency to recall the analog far more than it does the digital representation of such.

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (4 months ago)

Makes sense. If we photograph everything we'll tend to rely on the pictures rather than our brain to memorize things. Our visual memory must somehow get compromised. Maybe we should start thinking whether we really need to photograph everything from birthday cakes to monuments, rather than whining 'nonsense' about a study carried by people with better knowledge than us.
Incidentally, the other day I went to a photography exhibition. The pictures on show were from a photographer who'd won an important photojournalism award. There were lots of people attending the exhibition carrying their gear, from Nikon 1s to professional DSLRs. I noticed the people who were actually seeing the photographs hanging on the walls had no cameras...

2 upvotes
raybies
By raybies (4 months ago)

That study is correct but your conclusion is wrong. Memory recall is best achieved by creating an organization structure to support it.
Going around taking pictures of objects is forcing a structured that's relying on the photos so you will NOT remember them without the pics.

Eliminate that structure and instead your brain will rely on another structure... you can have perfect recall if your structure is good... like a story that incorporates the objects.

Also while taking pics, your brain is creating a memory structure for that act, and not the objects.

But for the average Jo, taking a picture captures that moment, and so you're not relying on an unstable structure to hold that memory.

So conclusion is: without the pics you will remember less, but with them you'll recall significantly more for much longer.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (4 months ago)

Not really. There's a thing called 'visual memory' that will stop being stimulated if you rely solely on pictures. I believe that's more to the point.

0 upvotes
Revup
By Revup (4 months ago)

It all depends on how you TAKE the picture, whether it's a 'composed' shot that you've considered and thought about, or whether its a 'snap'.

I suspect that the smart phone era has encouraged more 'snaps'. (my mother in law who points and shoots with little thought, calls them 'memory pictures' - you know the type, subject blurred, background in focus, horizons squint......but hey what a moment!)

I'm not trying to be snobish, All images are valid images in context. But the picture's I've considered and thought about ALWAYS lead me to remember the moment much better than a snap!

That's why the 'zoomed' in pictures in the report always created a better memory - because the photographer had to THINK about them inorder to zoom in!

The Rev.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
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