What makes a photograph memorable

View gallery Scroll to next
2 mins read

Remembering photographs

There has been some scientific material published recently about this topic. It is specifically about when you see a photograph and how and why you retain images in your memory. Some images have a stronger staying power in your brain than others.

But what is it that makes photographs that you have shot so memorable? Will you remember them in a day, a week or a year? You may not remember all of them, but some will stay in your memory for quite a while.

Take the example of a holiday. Most of us at some point would have experienced taking time off from work or studies to travel to a place that is different from where we usually reside. You are not purchasing a tangible item. What you are actually doing is handing over money to an airline, hotel, travel agent, tour operator etc for an experience. This experience then becomes a memory. As we can't recall every detail from our memory, the images we capture with our camera will assist us in recalling the holiday. Photographs trigger memories, so looking at them helps us in remembering the time we had.

A memorable photograph that you've taken does not necessarily mean it is a good or bad image. A memorable photograph is something that is emotive. Reasons why a single image is constantly in our mind (memorable) can be because: -

*it was taken at a time when we were happy (or sad)
*you connected with the subject
*it was an amazing time/place
*the people you were with were important
*you were doing something that you really enjoy

When being commissioned to photograph for a client, the images have to fit the brief. Photographing people needs an environment that is comfortable and relaxed. This will go a long way to ensure that the images will trigger memories for both the photographer, the client and/or the subject.

Port Fairy

Michael Christofas is a professional freelance photographer based in Melbourne. He is accredited with the AIPP; the Australian Institute of Professional Photography.