Like many others, I don’t have the best of memories. Recalling detail, names, academic facts, childhood memories, even important events and occasions, is often difficult and almost always frustrating. Paradoxical as it may seem, forgetfulness and memory lapse are, I suppose, as much human traits as is that of the ability to remember. Perhaps it’s a mechanism to blot out the ‘bad’, with the unfortunate side-effect of sometimes eradicating the ‘good’. Some people have a ‘photographic memory’ but I’m not one of them …….. but then again ……
It has only recently occurred to me that I DO have a photographic memory (and so do most people) …………. namely, all the photographs I have taken over the years provide a ‘memory’ to call upon. That might sound self-evident; indeed that’s often, for many of us, the very purpose of taking photographs – certainly at weddings, baptisms, birthday parties and so on.
However, that’s not really what I meant. It occurred to me that I can look back at a photograph I took many years ago (it could be of someone, something or somewhere) and I vividly recall almost everything relating to the image. Not the f-stop, speed, ISO and so on, you understand – that would be really sad ! No, I mean it brings back so much more than might be in the frame itself – I can usually recall exactly where I was when taking the shot, the surrounding sights, sounds, context – weather, atmosphere, mood and the like. Think about it for a moment …………….. it is difficult to think of any other medium (film included) that can generate and regurgitate such memories. That, to me, is why photography (when mine or others) is so important. It’s also why, I guess, in having to decide which of our possessions to save from fire or flood, most of us would save the photographs.
I think it’s an interesting topic to discuss and wonder whether others use photographs to enhance recollection the way I do. Please comment and let me know.