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12-27-2018, 01:22 PM   #1
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Another “Put Down Your Camera” Article, This Time from The Independent

When I first read this article “Why I'm not taking any more holiday photos” in The Independent (a British news source I generally like) my first reaction was “here we go again”.

Then I thought a little further about it. The article centres on a study of memory conducted by a New Zealand university, and the writer relates that to her not taking photos whilst on holiday with her family. The findings of the study are interesting, because they suggest that taking a photo of something as a memento actually impairs your memory of it.

My view, stated previously in similar threads, is that taking a photo whilst abroad doesn’t have to be like that. I spend, as I’m sure a lot of members here do, a bit of time at a site taking it in, and then looking for something that will make a picture. What the study and the writer were talking about was people taking snaphots, and not looking at what they were photographing. The difference was probably encapsulated in the last paragraph, where she talked about putting down your phone and just enjoying the experience. I’m with her on that.

She could have added that holding your phone at arm’s length and making a happy face (or worse, “duck” face) not only impairs your memory, but makes you look fake and silly, too. I bet most people won’t take a blind bit of notice, either.


Last edited by RobA_Oz; 12-27-2018 at 01:49 PM.
12-27-2018, 02:55 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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I am not a fan of the Independant and the article fails for me in the first sentence.
It presupposes that our memories are infalible, they are not and I often come across photos of places I had forgotten I'd visited.
Isn't that why photography was invented in the first place?
12-27-2018, 03:25 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
The difference was probably encapsulated in the last paragraph, where she talked about putting down your phone and just enjoying the experience. I’m with her on that.

She could have added that holding your phone at arm’s length and making a happy face (or worse, “duck” face) not only impairs your memory, but makes you look fake and silly, too. I bet most people won’t take a blind bit of notice, either.
That's why I preferentially take the dSLR on holiday and avoid using the phone/computer when everyone is awake and together. I would disagree that taking photos of the memories impairs the memory in itself, but the process of the photo does potentially impair the natural process of laying down new memories. If you get enough (good) photos to permit recall of the events and sights of the holiday without getting in the way of actually enjoying the moments, then it's a win-win. Kids actually love looking at the family photobook/album, and even sharing it with others, because it brings back those fond memories and they recall the events more and more as they go through the albums.
12-27-2018, 05:51 PM - 5 Likes   #4
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I remember more about the area through what I have photographed, the place, the weather, the trail, how tall the grass was, the height of a low hanging birds nest, where the chrysalis was, and who I was with. Hours later when I finally leave the trail I see everyone that hurried past on their 'sight seeing' excursion. They walked past so fast looking quickly at trees that they missed the line of cutter ants carrying leaf pieces underground. They missed the low hanging nest, the landscape of ferns on the log, the tussock moth caterpillar, the deer that snuck past, the chrysalis and the leaf hanging by one spider web thread.
They were together as a family true.... but only managed to take a quick walk and missed everything. However my grandson and I took both K3's and had the full experience of finding and photographing everything we could and had a blast because he was learning and we were interacting because of the cameras.

12-27-2018, 06:39 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevin B123 Quote
I am not a fan of the Independant and the article fails for me in the first sentence.
It presupposes that our memories are infalible, they are not and I often come across photos of places I had forgotten I'd visited.
Isn't that why photography was invented in the first place?
I’m not a fan of preachy media in general telling people why they shouldn’t do whatever it is they do. Concern Trolling seems to be intentional; it is corrosive, judgemental and demeaning. Next step is to simply compel “good” behaviors.
12-27-2018, 06:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I’m not a fan of preachy media in general telling people why they shouldn’t do whatever it is they do. Concern Trolling seems to be intentional; it is corrosive, judgemental and demeaning. Next step is to simply compel “good” behaviors.
Don't worry. The free market will determine a company's success, not the "pundits" nagging for obedience to their recommendations.
12-27-2018, 07:06 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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The artical is nonsense. Sure it might be possible to be so busy with the camera as to miss the moment. But it doesn't have to be that way. Taking pictures doesn't detract from your enjoyment of the moment unless you're fanatical about it, and more than a little obsessive.

Th problem with her analysis is the long term memory is pretty fluid. To the point that what you remember may not be what happened. There is no archival part of the mind that gives you the kind of total recall an image does. The simple fact is, memories for the most part are at best incomplete, and open to suggestion. They aren't a hard record of what was there. A photograph is.

And honestly, I find people who suggest I can't be in the moment while holding a camera to be quite irritating. The intimation is that they are wholly there, and I'm not. My answer to that is "prove it." It's quite possible I am both more in the moment than you are, and also taking pictures.

QuoteQuote:
Similarly, cognitive psychologist Linda Henkel, a psychology professor at Fairfield University, conducted a study in 2014 with 28 university students where they were asked to observe 15 objects and snap photos of 15 others in a museum. When they were tested the next day, they were less able to remember details of objects that they had photographed. Henkel found that taking photos led to an “impairment effect” where the subjects remembered fewer concrete details of an experience.
This is such an obvious slight of hand....for many reasons.
The researcher didn't allow those who snapped the photograph the same amount of time with the object as those who just snapped a picture.
The researcher didn't allow people to look at the images they snapped when describing the object.
I guarantee you 10 years down the line, the guy who has just studied the image is going to remember a lot less about all 15 objects than the guy snapped a few images and reviewed them.

I can also guarantee that if I have as much time to study an object as someone else and just snap a quick photo to help refresh my memory, even two weeks later I will remember more.

This stands as another example of defining parameters of a study to prove a point, that isn't actually supported by the data.

It's academic hogwash. And it was the thought of having to endure a whole undergrad degree studying this kind of nonsense that had me abandon a career in psychology. Way to much sloppy research, way to many assumptions made on incomplete data. Way to many studies that sort of side stepped the issues the psychologists thought they were studying.

That being said , I had a short time to visit with my grand kids this year and I didn't pick up the camera. I completely understand wanting un-interrupted family time. But usually that's not the choice. Usually there's down time, and time for both.

The really silly thing about this article is that the main point is "don't spend all your time taking pictures, experience other things as well." Duh. Way to go Einstein. And the big revelation is that the author used to be so focussed on taking images that the world passed her by. That doesn't make any sense to me at all. I've had cameras since forever. I learned to both experience the world and document it. Maybe the author might want to give developing that skill a try.

I hate reading fly by night articles like this where the obvious thing is that the author needs to be trained in photography, not to ignore the world, but to increase their enjoyment and understanding of it. But I agree, there's no guarantee any cell phone user will necessarily develop those skills. Photography is like meditation. It takes some mental discipline, and some training, but in the end it enhances your world. But in todays world, everyone thinks "pick up a cell phone and you're a photographer." No training needed.

The whole point being, these psychologists can't really comment on photgraphy, because they aren't photographers. And they think everyone with cell phone is.

The other take away from this is. If you do have an intense family or group experience that will require your full attention, hire a pro. Just another one of the many alternative universes ignored by our ivory tower psychologists.

Last edited by normhead; 12-27-2018 at 07:20 PM.
12-27-2018, 07:40 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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I can not help but wonder if the people who write this sort of article are frustrated photographers ie: can not take a good photo. ? perhaps the writers of these articles wonder why they never get a good sunrise shot.....after sunrise.

I find looking back at my photos of anywhere I have been brings back great memories of the place, the hour, the people (g'day Ash) and feeling of the moment, which I try (largely unsuccessfully) to capture in my images. I always 'take in" the scene, the environment, the smell, the prevailing conditions etc etc etc. that is why photographers can be seen stumbling around in the dark well before first light or the last to catch the post sunset shuttle bus back from Hermits Rest for example.


Also have I seen people step up to a point and take a glance and move on, or as said earlier, go striding through with the pivoting head, apparently taking it all in, maybe they are. I have also seen others spend 5 minutes and then claim later that they "have been there, done that". I have visited Grand Canyon numerous times and still not done it justice, but each visit is well remembered thanks to the images taken.

12-27-2018, 07:54 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I think the unspoken assumption in the article was that the sort of photography the writer and most people indulge in when on holiday is taking what used to be called snapshots – photos taken with minimum attention to subject or composition, let alone detail, just because it's intended to record the moment or to prove they were there. From what I can make out, the billions of photos on Snapchat and Facebook etc are mostly of that ilk.

I don't regard this sort of article as preachy or even virtue signalling, but simply someone with limited knowledge picking up on a piece of research and running with it. Dan Goleman made a fortune doing something similar with a half-baked notion of emotional intelligence. It's not going to bring about massive social change – most people wouldn't bother to read it – but if it did cause the majority or even a significant minority of phone or tablet photographers to even cut down on what they do, it'd be a blessed relief to me and many others who just wish they'd get out of the way.
12-27-2018, 11:09 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
I think the unspoken assumption in the article was that the sort of photography the writer and most people indulge in when on holiday is taking what used to be called snapshots – photos taken with minimum attention to subject or composition, let alone detail, just because it's intended to record the moment or to prove they were there. From what I can make out, the billions of photos on Snapchat and Facebook etc are mostly of that ilk.

I don't regard this sort of article as preachy or even virtue signalling, but simply someone with limited knowledge picking up on a piece of research and running with it. Dan Goleman made a fortune doing something similar with a half-baked notion of emotional intelligence. It's not going to bring about massive social change – most people wouldn't bother to read it – but if it did cause the majority or even a significant minority of phone or tablet photographers to even cut down on what they do, it'd be a blessed relief to me and many others who just wish they'd get out of the way.
I could not get over the number of "selfies" being taken on our recent trip....seriously I have never seen so many people with backs to the scenery taking bloody selfies !! Crazy numbers.....gotta wonder what happens if the relationship breaks up.

Witnessed one girl (early 20's) part of a group taking a selfie, fall backwards off a wall in Yellowstone and luckily landed on a small ledge behind the wall, another 500mm and she was history. One very shaken up young lady.
12-28-2018, 06:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
I could not get over the number of "selfies" being taken on our recent trip....seriously I have never seen so many people with backs to the scenery taking bloody selfies !! Crazy numbers.....gotta wonder what happens if the relationship breaks up.

Witnessed one girl (early 20's) part of a group taking a selfie, fall backwards off a wall in Yellowstone and luckily landed on a small ledge behind the wall, another 500mm and she was history. One very shaken up young lady.
Several have died at Niagara Falls over the last few years, falling over the wall into the gorge.
12-28-2018, 11:09 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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It’s not just the time taken up with the selfies,it’s the subsequent hours spent with head buried in phone picking out which ones to immediately post to social media so all their “friends” can see what a great time they’re having!
12-28-2018, 11:18 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by timb64 Quote
It’s not just the time taken up with the selfies,it’s the subsequent hours spent with head buried in phone picking out which ones to immediately post to social media so all their “friends” can see what a great time they’re having!
Funny how the images of people in bars doing selfies never seem to make me want to drop what I'm doing and head for the bar. Half the time, I'd be ignoring that person even if they were in the room. I don't have any idea how I got so many facebook "friends."

The worst of course are relatives.... I feel obligated to have them on my friend list. It doesn't helpp that there are fundamentalist Christians sending me messages about you know who every second day. I love them, but i really don't want to hear from them.
12-28-2018, 02:20 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Several have died at Niagara Falls over the last few years, falling over the wall into the gorge.
Saw another moment that made my heart skip a beat at Hoseshoe Bend, near Page. For anyone that knows this spot, they will have seen a finger of rock jutting out over the edge, some 3m X 1.5m. We were standing on the rim proper near this finger, taking it all in (& yes photographing) when a young buck ran past us and leapt out onto this finger of rock. The landing was perfect, he took his selfie and jumped back up into the rim proper and left. Any slip from there and he is dead, there is nothing under him until he hits the bottom.


I get youthful exuberance, I can vaguely recall that feeling of immortality, but I despair for what happens when it does go wrong, the people who have to assist, rescue / recover and the authorities who then have to deal with grieving families and calls for barriers etc. Everyone loses from stupidity.
12-29-2018, 04:50 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Personally, when I am with my family, I like to take photos for a bit and then put down the camera and just enjoy their company. Yes, I can interact with my kids while taking their photos, but it isn't quite the same thing and they tend to be a lot stiffer when I am constantly snapping their photos. If I am honest, I don't really need 300 photos of them at the zoo looking first at the monkeys and then at the lion and then at the zebras. I either delete a lot of those or just let them sit on a hard drive.

When I'm not with my family, then the point of my being out is specifically photography and I don't care how many photos I take.

I would say that the biggest issue I see is that folks don't do enough creation of photo books. I make one every year with plenty of journaling in them. To me, a combination of photos and written recollections is the best way for me and my kids to remember past trips and events. Memories are lost over time if they aren't used and simply the act of my writing them down fixes them better in my mind and as my children look at them down the road they also remember these things better.

I do wonder about all of the millions of photos that are on folks cell phones or somewhere in the cloud. If you die, those are probably lost. The concept of finding a shoe box or two full of photos is a foreign one in today's climate where everything is stored on phones and the interwebs.

---------- Post added 12-29-18 at 07:00 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The artical is nonsense. Sure it might be possible to be so busy with the camera as to miss the moment. But it doesn't have to be that way. Taking pictures doesn't detract from your enjoyment of the moment unless you're fanatical about it, and more than a little obsessive.

Th problem with her analysis is the long term memory is pretty fluid. To the point that what you remember may not be what happened. There is no archival part of the mind that gives you the kind of total recall an image does. The simple fact is, memories for the most part are at best incomplete, and open to suggestion. They aren't a hard record of what was there. A photograph is.

And honestly, I find people who suggest I can't be in the moment while holding a camera to be quite irritating. The intimation is that they are wholly there, and I'm not. My answer to that is "prove it." It's quite possible I am both more in the moment than you are, and also taking pictures.



This is such an obvious slight of hand....for many reasons.
The researcher didn't allow those who snapped the photograph the same amount of time with the object as those who just snapped a picture.
The researcher didn't allow people to look at the images they snapped when describing the object.
I guarantee you 10 years down the line, the guy who has just studied the image is going to remember a lot less about all 15 objects than the guy snapped a few images and reviewed them.

I can also guarantee that if I have as much time to study an object as someone else and just snap a quick photo to help refresh my memory, even two weeks later I will remember more.

This stands as another example of defining parameters of a study to prove a point, that isn't actually supported by the data.

It's academic hogwash. And it was the thought of having to endure a whole undergrad degree studying this kind of nonsense that had me abandon a career in psychology. Way to much sloppy research, way to many assumptions made on incomplete data. Way to many studies that sort of side stepped the issues the psychologists thought they were studying.

That being said , I had a short time to visit with my grand kids this year and I didn't pick up the camera. I completely understand wanting un-interrupted family time. But usually that's not the choice. Usually there's down time, and time for both.

The really silly thing about this article is that the main point is "don't spend all your time taking pictures, experience other things as well." Duh. Way to go Einstein. And the big revelation is that the author used to be so focussed on taking images that the world passed her by. That doesn't make any sense to me at all. I've had cameras since forever. I learned to both experience the world and document it. Maybe the author might want to give developing that skill a try.

I hate reading fly by night articles like this where the obvious thing is that the author needs to be trained in photography, not to ignore the world, but to increase their enjoyment and understanding of it. But I agree, there's no guarantee any cell phone user will necessarily develop those skills. Photography is like meditation. It takes some mental discipline, and some training, but in the end it enhances your world. But in todays world, everyone thinks "pick up a cell phone and you're a photographer." No training needed.

The whole point being, these psychologists can't really comment on photgraphy, because they aren't photographers. And they think everyone with cell phone is.

The other take away from this is. If you do have an intense family or group experience that will require your full attention, hire a pro. Just another one of the many alternative universes ignored by our ivory tower psychologists.
I think it really depends on what you are doing. If you are out hiking with your family, having a camera will probably be a natural part of that experience. If you are playing a board game or just sitting in a room having a conversation, then not so much. It probably depends as well on the age of family members and how they respond to having their photo snapped periodically.

I used to take more photos, but I realized that going to a museum and taking photos of all the exhibits that I later delete wasn't actually enhancing my enjoyment of anything. But you are right that each of us needs to do the things that make us happy and not worry about some little study about taking photos and memories.
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