Forgetting to Remember



“It is only when they have the photos before their eyes that they seem to take tangible possession of the day spent … Everything else can drown in the unreliable shadow of memory” – Calvino Adventures of a Photographer 177


Photo: Arbron 

It seems that photography has become a crutch for the human memory. With photos we can forget a day’s events or forget the details of what something looked like at a particular moment in time. Photos can even provide more information for people but catching details someone may not have noticed without taking a picture. Is this really helping people though? It seems that if it gets to the point where every second a person takes a photograph  they are forgetting to live in the moment and are deciding to take a picture and then live in the moment, in the picture.

The picture above is of a woman taking a photograph of something else. This truly displays how people feel the need to capture particular items in an instant of time. The concentration in her face shows that she is thinking about how  what she is photographing looks, at what angle the photo would come out best, or if the lighting is good enough. When one begins to concentrate more on taking a picture of an experience, they begin to think about the photograph he or she is taking rather than the experience being photographed.

It is important to remember to experience things and remember those emotions felt when a particular event occurs. Photos are useful because they provide a physical memory to humans. One must not forget that a person has his or her own memory to rely on as well. When one forgets this, he or she then solely depends on photographs to provide them memories of his or her life. The things photographs cannot completely remember, such as emotions, or those items and events that may not have been photographed, are things a human memory may remember better. Photos may be able to provide the physical aspects of something but cannot capture those emotions felt. People should also try to remember to let events happen before making the event become the photograph being taken; taking photos of something without experiencing what is being photographed leaves the image useless in providing recollection to the viewer anyway.


12 Responses to “Forgetting to Remember”

  1. wow kevin… great analysis!

    i totally agree with you in regards to the photographic loss of emotion. like calvino also said in his story, people don’t act to act anymore… they act for the lens. years after photographs are taken, people look at them to be reminded that they were happy at the time the photo was taken. a good example of this is facebook. no one really takes pictures to have pictures, they just take them to make it seem as though we’re having a good time at college.

    i like your picture too… do you know what she’s taking a picture of?

  2. 2 kevinl

    i have no idea haha i wasn’t interested so much in what people were taking photos of when i took on this quote because i felt the important was in how much attention was given to the actual action of taking the photograph itself as oppose to what the photo was of.

  3. 3 mkg

    I like your photograph, too, but one thing we’re going to have to talk about in class tomorrow is the issue of rights and licensing.

  4. Interesting post, although I am not sure I agree with you. Perhaps photography is not a substitute for memory, but instead expands, emphasizes, and extends the occasion.


    shirley Buxton

  5. 5 kevinl

    I agree that photography does all of those things Shirley, but I see it as a problem when someone begins to depend solely on a photo for a memory rather than keep an emotional memory along with the physical memories captured in a photo. It seems like sometimes one feels he/she can forget something easier when he/she knows a photo is there to bring back what he/she may have felt; I think that degrades the event being photgraphed to begin with.

  6. Kevin, I do agree that memory is a wonderful thing; actually it enables us to live an experience over and over again. I am now 68 years old, and have a head full of memories—most of them are pleasant and uplifting. From time to time I take one out of my memory cache and examine it again. I see one more time, and smell and feel. Memory truly is a remarkable gift that God has given us.

    Blessings and joy,

    Shirley Buxton

  7. Hey, Kevin and everyone else. I just read at the top of the page that this is a group blog for a class. Guess I have intruded. Please forgive me….count it off to my advancing years.

  8. 8 mkg

    You haven’t intruded at all, Shirley — this is a public blog; we welcome interaction with the larger public. In fact, that’s the point! Thank you for engaging our dialogue here.

    — Prof. Gold

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