Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take photos with our eyes?

I don’t have a fancy camera, and just use my phone to take photographs. This means that my photos of the moon, sunsets, and stars end up looking like they were taken with a potato.

As photos go, the one below is not a bad one. But compared to the reality, it is a very pale imitation. The sunset that day was spectacular. It was the end of a wonderful day with family.

After taking this photo, I looked at the sunset in front of me, then at my photo, and the following exchange with my husband and friend ensued:

Me: Photos never look like the real thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take photos with our eyes?
Husband: We can. They are called memories
Friend: I was on a game drive and my camera died just as a huge lion came and lay next to our vehicle. I could not take a photograph, but I remember it perfectly. Every single hair. Looking back, I am glad I didn’t take a photograph because I can remember it better in my mind.

This reminded me of a very interesting book I read a while ago called The Art of Making Memories. It was written by Meik Wiking from the Danish Happiness Research Institute.

The gist of it was that these days we store memories differently from before. We outsource the act of making memories from our brain to Google and our camera roll – so-called ‘cognitive offloading’. Nowadays we rely on technology to store our memories, and this erodes the process of storing and recalling information within our brains. We very seldom live 100% in the moment, and remember things through pure mindfulness. At least, I don’t. I know I don’t have to remember everything I learn because I can look it up whenever I want. This takes the pressure off my memory and allows it to be free to remember other things. But on the other hand, photographs never ever capture fully what it is like to be there, 100% in the moment.

These days we are also bombarded 24/7 by more information than we could ever hope to remember, meaning that valuable memories are lost in the static.

As a teacher of many years, I can tell the difference between readers and non-readers in their spelling and the development of imagination. I suppose mindfulness and concentrating on special moments rather than photographing them affects the creation of memories in the same way.

I wonder who remembers the moment below better?

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

One thought

  1. I find that writing about my experiences in a journal helps me to broaden the scope beyond that which can be recorded in a photograph. I can write about the context, about what I felt about it, about how I feel about it at the point where I’m writing the entry (often the following day). I feel it adds a richness. Then again, I find simply looking back through the very basic jottings from previous years in my diary/Filofax can recall a place and time as well as any photo or, indeed, any longer written piece. I often photograph the most banal subjects.

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