jump to navigation

Photographs & Memories December 21, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

_0001aMemories are funny beasts.

Resurrecting sad moments may encourage sorrow to re-surface.

But even the happiest memories can make us sad as we reminisce about “the way we were.”

Moreover, memories are easily misfiled, mislaid, muddled up, and manipulated.

For a fascinating (and memorable) article about the way photographs erase and distort our memories:

Shutterbug Parents and Overexposed Lives (New York Times, 2/22/15)

Cheshire_Cat_TennielWhen we disrupt an experience to capture a photo, it hinders our ability to store the memory intact.

As Dr. Linda Henkel, the noted psychologist, notes:

“We’re collecting trophies of our experiences rather than being engaged in the experiences.”

Now, smile and say, “This is NOT a Kodak moment.”

Aah . . . that’s better!



1. Val Boyko - December 21, 2015

“We’re collecting trophies of our experiences rather than being engaged in the experiences.” Makes me think of smartphones, selfies and social media. Our attention on them can take us away from living life and keeps us in “Look at me and how I am living life!”
A thoughtful article Nancy on capturing memories. Thank you 💛

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Yes! Social media impacts the masses, encouraging them to focus on ephemeral self image rather than on developing mindful self awareness ~> it’s not “who you are” that matters . . . it’s all about who you “seem to be.” 🙄

That’s one reason I closed my FB account.

2. Hariod Brawn - December 21, 2015

O.S.D. – Obsessive Screen Disorder. A life vicarious, rendering a three dimensional vitality into a two dimensional stasis. Image is all.

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Yes!!! Well put, Hariod.

Instead of interacting in “real time” using all the senses, we are busy collecting “cyber dolls” to post on social media.

3. Ruth - December 21, 2015

Oh dear oh dear. I read the article and loved the part at the end when her own grandson was born! Something to think for sure. For Christmas I made photo books for my grandchildren to pore over and jog their memories!

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

As in all things, moderation is key. Our photo albums got out of hand when our nieces and nephews arrived on the scene and every shot was “so darn cute.” Instead of filling an album every 2-3 years, I was filling 2-3 albums per year! ACK!

Less is more ~> I culled 60 photo albums down to 20 before moving to Florida. And in the 7 years we’ve been here, I’ve only added one more photo album to the mix. Woo Hoo!

Now, I often leave my camera at home, knowing that trying to capture every moment in a digital image separates me from the moment I’m trying to capture.

My favorite photos of me are shots snapped by my parents when I was happily engaged in an activity, oblivious to the camera . . . not “smiling at the camera and saying cheese.”

Hope your grandchildren enjoy their photo books . . .

4. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - December 21, 2015

I’ve heard before that frequently we aren’t remembering “memories” but remembering pictures of the memories. It was interesting to read how the participants remembered less of things they took pictures of… but I’m not going to stop taking pictures, as there is something special about sitting down with a photo album and a great-grand-parent and hearing them reminisce… and I want my kid to be able to do that! Good food for thought this morning!

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Dr. Henkel sees a distinction between photo albums and digital warehouses of countless cyber images. So do I.

Less is more. Have fun sorting through your digital images to select and print a few to reminisce over “down the road.”

5. jannatwrites - December 21, 2015

There have been times when I’ve been so involved in something, I realized I wasn’t taking pictures. I didn’t exit the moment to start. I don’t know if I would ever stop snapping a pic when I see a landscape the catches my eye, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about taking too many selfies 🙂

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

On occasion, I have had a feeling of “momentary dismay” when I realized that I hadn’t taken any photos of a “memorable event.”

Now I realize that’s because I was having so much fun that I didn’t want to “stop the action” to go get the camera.

It’s a WIN!

6. BunKaryudo - December 21, 2015

I must admit that I have missed so many of the important moments from my kids’ lives, even though I was physically present, because I was experiencing them through a camera lens. It just isn’t the same.

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Finding the right balance is key! Just because we can record everything doesn’t mean we should.

BunKaryudo - December 21, 2015

I feel the same way. Sometimes it’s better to feel part of the event rather than semi-detached from it but with a photograph to show for it.

7. Jill Weatherholt - December 21, 2015

Interesting article, Nancy. One of my favorite traditions on Christmas Eve is to break out the old family photo albums. Each year, it’s as though its the first time we’ve seen the photos. We laugh at the funny styles and remember those who are no longer with us.
I feel sorry for children growing up with parents who have their faces in their iPhones non-stop. People make fun of me because I don’t have an iPhone, but I carry my old flip phone with pride. 🙂

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Fun tradition, Jill. Perfect for that Auld Lang Syne time of year.

I enjoy grabbing a random album to flip through on “rainy days and Mondays.” And I’m with you on the flip phone. We put 400 minutes on it a year and don’t even use them all . . .

8. L. Marie - December 21, 2015

Wow. This is great! So many times, I’ve regretted that I didn’t have my phone handy. But I remember being present in the moment. And I still recall those moments without the aid of a photograph. 🙂

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Kudos, Linda! It’s great to find out that our “mistakes” weren’t mistakes at all. Here’s to being present in the present.

9. Kate Crimmins - December 21, 2015

I knew there was a perfectly good reason why I’m such a bad photographer. I forget my camera. If I bring it I lay it on the table for the whole event and never take a picture because I’m too busy having fun.

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

When my nieces and nephews were young, I was happy to snap away a few times a day during visits. Now everyone’s old enough that they look about the same as last visit . . . so my camera sits idle.

It’s more fun not being the “official photographer.”

10. Carol Ferenc - December 21, 2015

Glad to hear I’m not the only one without a smart phone. I carry a cheap pay-as-you-go phone for emergencies only. I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing!

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

We IZ so smart that we don’t need a smart phone! :mrgreen:

11. clarbojahn - December 21, 2015

Memories are diamonds and rust.

Merry Christmas, Nancy!
I don’t own a smart phone but heed your warning. And took note about culling down your photo albums. My photos are in shoe boxes needing to be culled and they will wait there in their boxes.

Like many I fear for the young.

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

Thanks, Clar. Hope your holidays are overflowing with laughter.

12. Under the Oaks - December 21, 2015

Exactly why I quit dragging my Nikon every place I went with family and friends and I don’t use my phone camera often. I got tired of being the picture taker and losing out on all the fun. It TRULY does rob you of those precious moments. Okay when I want to do landscape shots, macro, and pets but I didn’t want to be the one that friends and family sighed and said “enough with the pictures”… 🙄

nrhatch - December 21, 2015

You and I are on the same page. I like taking photos of places and things more than people these days.

The first time we met, you took a photo of us and I took a photo of you and CH. The next two times we got together . . . we just yakked and yakked and yakked. No photos required. 😎

13. wheremyfeetare - December 21, 2015

When Bill and I go to college hockey games I can’t tell you how many students are watching thru their smart phone. I’m not sure if they’re videotaping or taking photos but I always think the same thing – “why not put that down and watch it live!” I’ve really gotten away from taking the camera out when I go somewhere, I’m usually having too much fun to stop and take a photo. I don’t have a smart phone either, glad to see I’m in good company.

nrhatch - December 22, 2015

People who view life through a view finder may never find what they’re looking for. Silly rabbits! 🙄

I used to kick myself for forgetting to take pictures . . . now I’ll give myself a pat on the back!

14. Behind the Story - December 22, 2015

A fascinating article. There’s a lot to think about there. On a trip to Sicily and southern Italy about eight years ago, I left my camera at home. For one thing, I didn’t want to have too much to carry. Also, I wanted to experience what I was seeing and doing. And in that way, it was a good choice. But Italy was so new to me, and we visited so many places, I sometimes wish I had an album to remind me. That’s the dilemma.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Perhaps the key is to take a few shots of new-to-us vistas and venues and then put the camera away to more fully immerse ourselves in the experience?

Without stopping to take a “selfie” every 7.8 seconds.

15. NancyTex - December 22, 2015

I truly believe that when you’re too busy recording a moment on video, in a picture or in a 140 character tweet, you aren’t living that moment.

I love photography and cherish pictures I’ve taken of magical places, but I find myself taking the mental photos first and then, later, snapping an actual pic.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

That sounds like a balanced approach, NT. I do much the same when we visit a “magical place.” I snap a few shots and then put the camera away for the duration.

And I never feel that we have to be in every shot . . . “to prove we were there.” Because that seems to be what selfies is about.

16. Bill - December 23, 2015

Collecting trophies of our experiences rather than participating in them. That rings true to me.

At our daughter’s college graduation I’m ashamed to say that I was so focused on trying to get a picture of her receiving her diploma that I missed it. I got a useless fuzzy picture, but I didn’t see the moment. I regret that. I’d wager that sort of thing happens regularly nowadays. If I could go back in time I’d put down the phone and just soak in the moment.

nrhatch - December 23, 2015

Yes! That’s what happened when my niece graduated this past spring. I wanted to get a good shot of her walking across the stage and receiving her diploma to give to her.

But the shots ended up being fuzzy and unfocused . . . like me.

17. Tiny - December 26, 2015

Believe it or not Nancy, I’m a minimalist in photographing people who matter, even my two granddaughters…exactly because I want to experience them.

nrhatch - December 26, 2015

I believe it! The best photographers (like you!) go for QUALITY not QUANTITY.

18. Eileen - February 1, 2016

I enjoyed both watching and photographing my grand kids on outings to the Adventure Science Museum or Zoo. The photographs are in albums for them to remember and for me to relive those moments, now that they are grown and I’m old. Sort of two for one.

nrhatch - February 1, 2016

I love looking at photo albums ~ snapshots remind me of special times with my nieces and nephews when they were wee ones.

I suspect the key, like most things in life, is moderation. Now I snap a few shots and then put the camera away to join in the fun.

19. Xceptional43 - April 24, 2017

“We’re collecting trophies of our experiences rather than being engaged in the experiences.”

I love this line. Another reason to be midful and enjoy the moment.

nrhatch - April 24, 2017

Thanks for your post that got me thinking about this again:


What Say YOU?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: