Do you take many photos when you travel? Did you know that photographing your travels can diminish your memories of them?
It is actually true. Research has found that you will remember something better if you do not take a photo of it. I will get back to that later in this post. But first I would like to share some of my own experiences related to the topic.
From a young age I had a desire to collect souvenirs when I was travelling. As a kid, I collected napkins, stamps, rocks, and pencils that I could show off to friends. When I got my first camera, the photos became souvenirs.
However, one problem was that taking a photo required much more of my attention during the travels. Furthermore, I found that when I got home the images in the pictures I had taken replaced the images in my memory. The photos allowed me to experience my travels later, but not to be present in the moment.
After many years of travels, I experienced that the fewer photos I took, the more memories I made. That is actually why I do not take many pictures when I am out travelling anymore.
For me, putting down the camera instead of trying to get a perfect shot made the travel experiences much more enjoyable. Actually, I do not need any photos from my travels. I can see all the fantastic places I have been, just by closing my eyes.
Do not get me wrong. I love seeing great photos from travels, taken by professionals or people that are great at taking them. Photos of details, places and people. It is inspiring to see. But, I have to admit that I am not good at taking pictures. I always got many complaints from my sister and friends about that I do not take them right or good. Often because I take them so fast, because I want to really enjoy the place I am at. Not just through some lenses.
And actually not using too much time on taking photos, must have contributed to that I have better memories of the places I have visited than the people that used a lot of time taking photos when they visited the same places. A conducted experiment found that people that photographed artwork while on a tour in an art museum recalled less details from the art than the people that had not photographed. The conclusion is that people pay less attention to what they are looking at when they know they will have a digital memory of the scenery to view later.
When I travel, it looks like most people actually are more excited about taking pictures of a site or tourist attraction than of actually being there. Instead of for example enjoying a sunset on the beach, they are more interested in taking 20 photos of it and upload them on facebook. They practically miss the sun going down because they are too busy with editing their image or sending them out on snapchat. Isn’t that sad?
I am not saying there is something wrong with taking photos while travelling. But first, take a moment to take it all in. Do not let the photo be the goal of your visit. Experience where you are. Let your mind create an image of what you are seeing.
I believe that the “photos,” taken without a lens are the ones that truly matter. Often when I look at the pictures I have taken from my trips, I have forgotten most of the places and the meaning of the monuments I stand in front of. But what I still can recall is the taste of the delicious pasta in Italy, and wine in South Africa. I remember how delicious it felt entering to the crystal clear water in Arbua and the smell of the new-cut grass outside the Versailles castle. And those memories are what make me smile.
Do you take many pictures on your travels? Do you think they contribute to better or worse memories of the trip?