Clicking photographs during our travels is something many of us don’t even think twice about. Setting sun going down on the sea in a glorious orange blob? Quick, click! Ancient script carved on an Egyptian pillar? Take a shot and move on to the next one.
Some of us take it nice and easy, shooting only what looks truly worth preserving. Others pull out their camera the moment they step out for the walking tour, and it never goes back into its case until lunch break (or there are those who will ask you to wait before you take the first bite, so they can take a shot of the food on your plate).
Guess what is better for your memory cells: taking too many photos or just a few?
According to research findings published in the Journal of Psychological Science, taking too many pictures can reduce your ability to remember the actual moment. The reason for this is that the use of a camera habituates you to relying on technology to “remember” the moment on your behalf. As Fairfield University psychologist Linda Henkel puts it, “You’re just kind of mentally discounting it, thinking–Well, the camera’s got it.”
If putting away the camera doesn’t sound ideal, try focusing on more specific details in your shot. While random clicking can impair your ability to recall scenes, creating more mindfulness when snapping a detail could help you remember it better. In the above mentioned study, subjects were shown 30 objects in a museum. Some were asked to take general shots of each object, while the others were asked to zoom in and capture a specific detail. Later, the ones who took close-ups remembered the objects better.
I for one am going to limit my picture-taking from now on, and rely more on my mind’s eye for making and keeping memories.