The Camera that Makes You Forget

“…people who take pictures lose their capacity for close observation. Without a camera, you study a thing more carefully and remember it better. Taking a picture is a way of forgetting.”

Paul Theroux, an American travel writer and novelist, wrote this in a Wall Street Journal Article in September of 2015. My initial reaction was that my camera was better than Mr. Theroux’s, because it has exactly the opposite effect. When I take a picture with my camera, a Canon 5D Mark III, and years later I want to remember something about the subject I captured, I look at the picture and it helps me remember. That’s right! The name of that town was not Chalupa, but Chichicastenango! What a great trip!

And come to think of it, all the cameras I’ve ever used featured the same level of sophistication, even some point-and-shoots I owned back in the day. Other photographers have had similar experiences:

 Produce vendor photographing tourists, Abaneri, Rajasthan, India

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything”. Aaron Siskind

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them”. Elliott Erwitt

Not only does photography help you remember and recapture long lost memories, it also facilitates making connections when you travel. Photographer Mike Maceacheran, in another Wall Street Journal article (“Caputring Kolkata”), described how “…surveying the city through the viewfinder allowed me to meet and interact with people in a way I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to.”

Unfortunately, the Theroux article does not mention the kind of camera he uses, but from personal experience I can tell you it is not a Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony, or any camera with a sensor. So my advice is to always make sure you buy a camera with a sensor. Otherwise you will forget too.

Now get out and shoot something.