image v. memory


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I remember this day well.  My twin daughters were three.  We’d been at the beach for the afternoon, they were hot, sandy, cranky and tired.  I was pretty sure putting them in a tub of water and giving them popsicles would buy me a few minutes to sit on the porch and collect my thoughts…or do I have it all wrong?  I must have it all wrong because of the look in their eyes.

What am I not remembering? 

I love the picture, but I only remember this moment through the image. It isn’t as hardwired as it would’ve been by simply being there with my girls.

I’m proud of my photos.  They certainly fill a creative craving for me…but I think I might need to be more judicious about when I pull out my camera or iphone.

Sometimes I want the buffer the camera allows me and sometimes I don’t want the burden of being the photographer.

The more I learn about neural pathways, they more I want to let experiences get hardwired into my brain and not always captured in pixels.  I might be more willing to explore this because my camera is now being repaired.  At first I felt like I was missing a limb when I dropped it off last week.  However, after being away for the weekend with my family it allowed me more time to be “in the moment”.

This morning my husband and I walked the beach and in the distance I noticed that there were seals on the rocks.  My phone had died and I didn’t have my camera.  We walked closer and got a better look.  We watched them slide on and off the rocks and Jeff made “seal sounds”.  We joked about how cool it would be if his calls were actually summoning them.  I’ve always wanted to touch a seal.  (I was told they feel very “oily”.)  This is now a memory to call upon.  I created the neural pathway of this moment on March 27th, 2016 of walking the beach with my husband in the sun and seeing a bunch of seals.

I found the story below on the RADIOLAB site about photographs and memories.

RADIOLAB (link & excerpt from article)

“A recent study out of Fairfield University suggests that taking digital photographs actually diminishes our memory. That’s right, makes it worse. What we have here is forgetfulness being enforced on two accounts.

First, and probably no surprise, the action of taking a photo distracts us from physically instilling the moment into the hardwiring of our brain. In the time normally spent capturing the moment in our neurons, we’re thinking, “I want to take a picture of this.” Whipping out our camera, setting up the shot, we become more focused on the act of capturing a copy of the moment with our camera rather than the event itself in our brain. The moment is recorded in pixels, but it’s not imprinted in our brain’s neuronal wiring.

Secondly, our future recollection of the moment (now haphazardly hard-wired in our brain) is lessened because of the medium we’re using — digital pixels as opposed to physical prints.”

________________________

This makes a lot of sense, but it will be a tough habit for me to break.

I’m actually glad now that I don’t just have a grainy picture of the seals in my camera.

2 thoughts on “image v. memory

  1. A very thoughtful post Lisa-I remember a photo exercise in which you were allowed to take one photograph a day- that was all- the rest of the time was to be spent being present and taking in your world- I found it very helpful in learning to be present and remembering details, sounds and smells-the seals sounded wonderful and I really liked the photos of the girls!

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