Everyday Mindfulness Techniques: Mindful Photography

Are we remembering less as we take more photographs? Here are three simple ways to take more mindful photos with your phone.

Photographs by Terry Bell

Are we mindlessly taking photos with our phones and broadcasting them? There are too many examples, both embarrassing and oddly fascinating, that suggest this is the case. Add to that, research is beginning to surface suggesting Facebook can make us feel lonely and can even lower our self esteem when we feel ignored. Even executives from Facebook are struggling to figure out how we can better take control of our tech.

Maybe there are limits to how much we can absorb with a screen in front of our face as opposed to just experiencing something. Psychologist Linda Henkel studies human memory at Fairfield University in Connecticut. Some of her recent studies suggest that taking photographs can impair our memory—we’d actually be able to recall details of an object or experience better if we hadn’t photographed it.

Henkel cautions that this is not an “unplug” moment where we need to become luddites and abdicate all forms of human recording. Instead, she says we have to pay attention more when we’re taking photos. She explains:

It doesn’t have to be that the act of taking a photo robs you of your memory.…