Can Taking Too Many Photos Impact Your Memory?



We are all guilty of it these days: Living our lives through the added filter of our smartphones and digital cameras. These devices catalogue our lives, but they also take us out of the moment. A growing body of research points to the idea that taking too many photographs may actually reduce our ability to form and store memories. According to a recent article on NPR.org, researchers are calling this the “photo-taking impairment effect,” wherein our brain essentially relies on the device, not our own internal memory storage to record events. This is not to say we should abandon our camera altogether, but maybe there is space to moderate our camera use so that we do not sacrifice being present in our daily lives. We have assembled some ideas to get you thinking about ways to start savoring the moment by taking fewer, higher quality images.


Get to Know Your Equipment

Whether it’s the final light touching the horizon, or your child’s winter recital, these are fleeting events that you do not want to let go of. The problem is that if you are left fiddling with the settings on your camera in order to get the perfect picture, not only are you going to miss the best photograph, but you are also preventing yourself from letting your brain record and store a vivid, sensory memory of this moment. Investing some time reading about the settings and features on your camera will help you to take fewer, more intentional photos. There are countless free online tutorials such as this one, which has ten iphone camera tips to instantly increase your confidence and discretion when taking photos.


Shoot Photographs Like an Artist

The good news is that being intentional and selective about the photographs you are taking can actually enhance your memory retention. Try to think beyond a group shot or a simple “here I am in front of the Eiffel Tower” picture. The more you hone in on fine details, or play around with perspective, the more you are interacting with your surroundings, and thus less likely to lose out on the full experience of your day. Something as simple as switching angles can really change the outcome of a picture. Try shooting upward from the base of the subject to create a dramatic effect, and also to eliminate distractions in the background. On your iphone, you can easily experiment with depth of field by holding the camera close up and tapping the screen over the subject. This will automatically blur the background, creating an interesting effect. Also, don’t forget about abstract details. Sometimes the best images are of close-up patterns or textures that, taken out of context, become something new with the help of your creative eye.


Using Your Pictures to Enhance and Enjoy Your Memories

Even with the use of mindful photo-taking techniques, chances are, you are still going to end up with a surplus of digital files that are cumbersome to wade through. This clutter can undermine the purpose of our treasured pictures, which is to reminisce upon, and relive important times in our lives. If you find that you have too many images to wade through, it’s time to think about letting one of our professional photo organizers help you create a photo library that is curated and accessible.


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