Photos = Memory Triggers

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Photos = Memory Triggers

To revisit a past experience, whether it be a vacation or business trip, travelling back there by using photos as memory triggers has huge benefit.

Some say shooting photos isn't needed because they've been there and their memory is enough. Is this true? To some extent maybe, but to re-live and truly get back to a certain place a trigger is needed. It's been proven over and over that our imperfect human memory requires triggers to dredge up the multitude of memories associated with a given past situation*. Smells work very well, as many of us know, as does music and taste. When one comes across a unique aroma from childhood a burst of memories associated with that smell appears. Photos are like that too. Sure you remember the Sahara Desert excursion, and remember some of the feelings from when being there. But if triggered in some special way, such as seeing a photo from that time and place, there is an order of magnitude difference in the richness of the memories brought up. Suddenly one can smell what was smelled there, feel what was felt, and remember more clearly many other images from that one snapshot, including ones not captured digitally.

Its an extra value of digital photo assets from a personal as well as business perspective. The value is rather obvious in regards to a personal photo collection. But it's true for businesses as well.

Businesses usually reuse their photos assets for uses such as in print for marketing purposes, but triggers are also an aspect of a photo collection which increases the asset value of a company's photo collection. Examples being from a legal or insurance use, or perhaps just to help remember who that important business contact was at a conference a couple years back.

Our human memories are imperfect, sadly. Luckily research in memory triggers and the ubiquitousness of digital cameras are there to help.

Glenn Rogers, PMP
DBGallery Product Manager

* See Google Scholar articles. Or for a more entertaining take on memory triggers, check out the great Robert J. Sawyer's (@RobertJSawyer) sci-fi book Triggers.

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