Quantity doesn’t equal quality with personal photos

The camera in your cell phone — which you carry with you everywhere — makes it so easy to capture the moment. It’s great!

Until you encounter 10,000 … or 20,000 … or 30,000 images that you have to sort, categorize, backup and store.

Oh, and enjoy.

As a photo organizer, I make my living by helping people sort through all the images that overwhelm them, but I’m an editor, too. Good editors know that like too many cooks with the broth, too many words spoil a story. And too many photos need to be edited, too. No one actually enjoys 20,000 photos — especially 20,000 photos on a computer hard drive or in the cloud — they are a burden.

Turns out, even taking that many photos can spoil memories.

Camera phones may be washing out our memories, according to a story today on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.


A selfie gone wrong. A memory lost. And another photo to sort in my collection.

A selfie gone wrong. A memory lost. And another photo to sort in my collection.

“I think that the problem is that people are giving away being in the moment,” says Maryanne Garry, a psychology professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, who has studied the effects of photography on our childhood memories.

The prescription: Psychologist Linda Henkel, who researches human memory at Fairfield University in Connecticut, recommends “mindful photography.”

Taking some photos to jog your memory is useful. But actually experiencing the moment is valuable memory preservation, too.

So carry that cell phone with you. But put it away sometimes. And enjoy the moment. Now. And later.


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