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That’s how we take our Starbucks coffee’s photo for an insta story, right? Five at one go. Only to be never looked at again. 

You know, sometimes the irony of life really amazes me. Like beyond imagination.

We take pictures to capture our memories, to freeze them with the passage of time. Memories we will want to revisit. We click photos so that we can laugh again at the trip we took on our birthday, even 15 years later.

One can dig up almost any memory that is buried deep inside our hearts, solely with pictures and snapshots. And before you know it, the entire family will be bubbling with incidents to share. The elders will be sharing the events with great nostalgia and the younger ones will be listening to the tales like they were fiction. Soon enough you could live through an incident that had happened way before you were born.

All of this with the help of a piece of cardboard. Oh, the power it holds. 

To accomplish this somewhat even more efficiently, we turned to digital photography, because it allows us to take as many pictures as we want. So that we don’t have to confine ourselves to the 16 photo restrictions of 120mm of the film roll. We can take pictures without the uncertainty whether they’ll turn out fine or not. 

The paradox kicks in here. Unlike the 70s and the 80s, clicking a picture has become simple beyond comprehension. You don’t have to wait for days to get the photos processed, let alone edited. Now clicking photos is not reserved for special days and is definitely not a planned activity (we’ve got candids now 😏).We can pull out our phone and click pictures of almost anything and everything that interests us. 

This is like what happened to aluminium. When aluminium was discovered, Napoleon III served food to his more illustrious guests in aluminium utensils and the less honourable ones were served in gold and silver utensils. Later on, aluminium was widely used among beggars in Paris.

What we can see here is that as soon as a product became abundant, its value dwindled.

So is the case with photos. As much as I appreciate the pocket-sized convenience that a camera and a phone is, I’ve seen myself and others taking pictures just because we can. We take pictures till the time we are satisfied that we have enough to show people. When that’s done and statuses & stories are uploaded, there’s a  major chance that you’ll ever look at them again and feel nostalgic. Of course, unless it’s a pic from your trip and not a pic of what you just ate. And doing the same, we often lose the awareness of where we are and what we are doing.

The result of this is a hazy memory of the place whose photograph is being taken. Hmm… Quite the opposite to the purpose of photos.

This happens because your brain starts to rely on “memory of the camera” and also starts to divert more energy towards visual imagery. And this is not coming from me. It’s a consequence of the “photo-taking impairment effect” first identified in a 2013 study.

So… How can we actually remember the memories from your photographs or we will continue to be Ghajini forever and lead our lives with photographic clues?

The resolution (pun intended) to this is – recalling your memories through photographs. Just like the old times wherein you click just enough photos that allow you to summon the memories, not give you the minute to minute details of the day.

You can do another thing. After you take enough pictures of the specific day or event, you should just sit back and absorb the scene. Take notice of the color of the sky, the smell in the air and everything you can using your senses.

I took this one step further and did an interesting thing to accomplish this. I bought a polaroid camera. The limitation of the film I’ll have to put in it will keep in check, how much time I am spending clicking photos and how much I am devouring what is in front of me.

Psst… I’ll tell you a secret. The camera has pretty awesome aesthetics too. 

I’m dropping the link down below in case you too are interested in taking your limited photography a step further.
Here is the video that inspired this post: How To Remember Your Life

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