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Photography has changed not only the way that I make notes but also the way that I write.Like an endless series of prompts, the photographs are a record of half-formed ideas to which I hope to return.That is why I have found myself so willing to put down my notebooks and rely fully on my photo stream.
It’s no coincidence that the rise of the selfie coincides with the age of autobiography.
Photography engenders a new kind of ekphrasis, especially when the writer herself is the photographer.
Henkel found “a photo-taking-impairment effect”—photographing the object led students to remember fewer objects and fewer details than those who simply observed the art.
In a second study, she asked students to observe the objects and then to photograph them using the camera’s zoom.
I can’t remember exactly when I stopped carrying a notebook.
Sometime in the past year, I gave up writing hurried descriptions of people on the subway, copying the names of artists from museum walls and the titles of books in stores, and scribbling down bits of phrases overheard at restaurants and cafés.
“Did you make detailed notes that day, or do you simply remember all this? In fact, I had written the essay after studying photographs that I had taken of the man and his leeches.
When she praised a specific bit of description, I had to admit that it hadn’t come about spontaneously—it was only after looking carefully at the photographs and trying out various metaphors that I settled on the idea that the leeches were gathered around the middle of the bottle like a belt.
“Point-and-Shoot Memories: The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour” documented Henkel’s findings after taking two groups of students through an art museum.
The first group was instructed to observe works of art for thirty seconds, the other group observed the art for twenty seconds and then photographed it; the next day, both groups were surveyed about what they remembered.