Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Words?

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After reading Lucky’s article about travel photography, I scrolled through my own catalogue of pictures to find out how many I take in a day while on a trip.

For my journey to the arctic, my daily average was 287 pictures per day with some as high as in the upper 600’s, and some days down at 125. That seems like a lot, but Lucky says he takes 300-400 per flight so if I use that as a benchmark I’m right in between there somewhere. A visit to Niagara Falls? 400 photos. Road trip cross-country? Tens of thousands. I bet there are a lot of people just like me that take a ton of pictures.

I’d read recently in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing though that the ideal number of photos being taken per day on a holiday or vacation (when the pictures aren’t being used for work) is one. ONE. With a total of 5 per trip. How is that possible, I wondered. The idea is that instead of relying on the photos to recall that specific incident during the trip, you simply look at one photo and a rush of memories comes to you. Rather a picture being worth a thousand words, it would be more similar to a thousand tiny memories.

The book went on to explain that every single photo should bring you joy, and that in the case of most people there are waayyyy too many photos that don’t.

Do I need to keep this photo?

Do I need to keep this photo? I’ve forgotten what it is a picture of. 

I’m sure that some people are minimalists and would shake their heads in exasperation at the sheer number of photos that I have. I understand that easily, even without looking through my digital 50,000+ photos that someday I’ll organize. 15 photos of the same blurry bridge taken from the car? I probably don’t need any of them.

I found another article that backs up the first one, saying that taking way too many photos actually prevents our brains from remembering as much about the event. A study was done where people in a museum were told to simply look at some items, and take pictures of others. Those that took the photos remembered less about the items and less about the details than those that simply looked at the items without taking pictures.

After a long time has passed, maybe we simply remember the photos of the event rather than the event itself. Maybe trying to capture the moment doesn’t work as well as I think, but I want to make sure I don’t miss anything. Especially if I am traveling somewhere I don’t think I’ll return back to, if I don’t take a slew of pictures I think I’d regret it later.

How many photos do you take? Do you think my hundreds-per-day picture snapping is too much? Do any of you only take 5 photos per event?

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  1. dotti cahill
    Reply

    i read her book NOT IMPRESSED it did not help or motivate me… 5 pix in a day on a great trip NO WAY avg per trip 400 and i try to get the ones i like printed into an album within a week of the trip

    • Melinda
      Reply

      @dotti cahill I am impressed. One week after the trip and your pics are already in an album? Wow that is great!

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