Want memories of your summer vacation? Take fewer photos

Want memories of your summer vacation? Take fewer photos and engage all your senses.

“We see people trying to capture the memory of a vacation through the lens of a camera or phone,” says Elaine Hill, Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Intermountain Healthcare. “But the photographer has a one-dimensional view and is not having a chance to use all of their senses to create a memory.

“But, if you have a conversation about a past vacation, you can actually remember feelings and smells – even visual memories come to mind quite easily.”  All of the desired, positive memories can be accomplished without a photo.  Hill encourages vacationers to, “Let the camera be the tool, not the experience.”

A study conducted at Fairfield University in Connecticut found taking too many photos may prevent us from forming detailed memories. Researchers led students through a museum and asked them to choose to either photograph or just try to remember, different works of art and exhibits. The next day, they were asked to recall details from those objects.  The students who had taken photos were less likely to remember specifics. The study concluded that when people rely on technology to remember for them, it can have a negative impact on how well the memory is formed. This development was named “photo-taking impairment effect.”

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Since resisting the urge to pull out a camera this summer may take some practice, here are a few ideas that may help you learn to engage all your senses:

  • Eat what the locals eat – “We’ve got to have the fresh raspberry shakes at Bear Lake!”

  • Follow your nose – “Hey kids, don’t you love just love the smell of campfire and burnt marshmallow?”

  • Lend an ear – “Do you hear that stream? Why do you think they say a stream ‘babbles’?”

  • Magic touch – “Come bury me in this sand. It will feel so cool!”

  • Before your very eyes – “What an amazing view! Don’t the seagulls look like they’re surfing?”

Here’s to making memories that stick!