Taking photos of an event impairs your memory, finds a new study by Fairfield University. But instead of dropping your camera entirely, you can eliminate this “photo-taking-impairment effect” by zooming in on a specific part of the object.
The study took a group of students around a museum, with some told to snap photographs and others forbidden to. The next day, tests showed that those who took photos had a worse recollection of the event than those who didn’t.
However, the study found that when those who photographed zoomed in on particular parts, their memory was not affected.
When participants zoomed in to photograph a specific part of the object, their subsequent recognition and detail memory was not impaired, and, in fact, memory for features that were not zoomed in on was just as strong as memory for features that were zoomed in on. This finding highlights key differences between people’s memory and the camera’s “memory” and suggests that the additional attentional and cognitive processes engaged by this focused activity can eliminate the photo-taking-impairment effect.
So if you are going to take photos at an event, do yourself a favour and zoom in on something so that you don’t forget the experience of being there.