Can You Time Travel Through Photography

Listening to deep house tracks and missing the moment lying down on the pebble beach of Zlatni Rat (or Golden Cape) on island of Brač (opens hotel reservations for Brač) on the coast near Split in Croatia (opens hotel reservations for Split). I can still feel the warm white pebbles in my hands and the fact how the warm pebbles eased the pain in my back after walking so much during the last few days (even the beach is about 2 km from nearest town of Bol (opens hotel reservations for Bol), where you can get by bus from the other side of the island). I feel like this is a form of time travel, because I feel, see, smell and hear being there and am sort of oblivious of things happening around, even though my body is here. Maybe it’s a form of self-hypnosis or trance, or more commonly known as daydreaming, because the effects are about the same. Have you ever driven a car a long distance and find out that you don’t remember anything about the trip itself, but were somewhere else the whole time, in your memories? That is trance, or daydreaming.

By Szabolcs Emich (cropped by DIREKTOR) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Szabolcs Emich (cropped by DIREKTOR) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It is interesting to remember things so vividly, because it’s been several years since I’ve been in Croatia. I did not start my morning trip with a photograph and illegal substances, just black coffee and blank computer screen. Many things are still like they happened not yesterday but just a moment ago. Sometimes a photograph is a link to a certain moment, which is why I always have my camera with me, but for special moments like that in Croatia a photograph is not needed. I’m not telling that the camera is with me because of I live the plot of movie Memento, it’s just there to take photos for when something beautiful, ugly or something in between passes by. People always tell that they remember the key moments of their life very vividly, like their first kiss etc. For me, that’s not the case. I don’t remember my first kiss and many key moments of my life are like erased from my memory. I can remember something by looking at the photos, but still it’s these random moments here and there that are so vivid I can live them again and again. I have developed a habit of choosing which moments I consciously try to remember and which moments I try to forget.

By Hedwig Storch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Hedwig Storch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I recently read a study called Point-and-Shoot Memories: The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour saying that taking pictures of things makes you forget those moments more easily, because you subconsciously rely on the photos you have taken and not your memory. I have always kept that in my mind, even before the study was even made, because just twiddling your camera all day and taking photographs of everything you meet truly destroys your real experience of the moment and you may not relive it never again. So, be present first so you remember being there, and then photograph if you can. For some moments it’s not worth spoiling the moment with the camera at all, so be there, be present, try to feel being alive.

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The internet is full of self-hypnosis guides, so I’m not linking any of those here, because it may be better if you choose the method which is the most efficient for you. I don’t usually need any preparations for reliving the moments. Sometimes I have used an anchor, which is holding my thumb and my forefinger together forming a ring when having an intense, pleasurable moment. Later by doing the same, it’s easier to travel back in time and place to that same moment. I don’t know the science behind this, but if it works, it’s enough for me. Photographs are also anchors, which is why you seem to remember moments that you find in your childhood pictures, but not much else. So, taking photographs now and then is a good thing, but the experience itself should be the main goal, not the photographs (unless you’re paid to take photos of something, of course).

Using the anchored good moments are also a good way to escape, or at least try to, the bad experiences you meet in your life. Just make sure you are not anchoring to the bad moment, but the other way around, reliving the good memory of whatever it may be and forgetting the thing you’re about to erase.

Watch your thoughts for they become words,
watch your words for they become actions,
watch your actions, for they become habits,
watch your habits for they become your character,
watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever stalked yourself? It’s something you should sometimes try. Just concentrate on your thoughts and actions throughout your day and try to understand what makes you feel the way to feel and why you do things you do. You may find things that make you unhappy or happy, things you do without knowing and things you should not do, but do anyway. Stalking yourself is the start point of building yourself and ultimately your destiny. I find myself thinking some things over and over and notice that these things do not benefit me in any way, so the best way is to deal with them in some way, become your own therapist. Memories and thoughts about people who have departed can be especially troublesome, since you don’t have the possibility to talk to the person, such as my father who passed lately. Read the quote above from Ralph Waldo Emerson and try to catch the essence of the thought behind the text, it may change your whole life. The same quote has been associated with several other authors also, but for this purpose the discussion of its real origin is not relevant.

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The pebble beach. I still miss the place and intend to go there again some day, but I can relive the moment so vividly, that I’m glad I concentrated on making an anchor to the moment while being there. Yesterday wasn’t the best days of my life and I couldn’t sleep last night, so the morning started very anxiously. That is when I decided to go back in time and have my morning coffee on that beautiful beach, one of the best in the world (and it’s not just an opinion, you can Google it and read it for yourself).

I fully recommend learning to record your intense, pleasurable memories either by physical anchoring (like the simple one I use), or some other method of which there are plenty of articles and books around. Most articles talk about anchoring effect, which is maybe the opposite to what I’m talking about. People subconsciously anchor facts, moments etc. to something and later without even knowing what is happening have that anchored moment influence their decisions. I fully recommend you to recognise the negative anchoring effect which you have done subconsciously and take control of yourself instead of being just a puppet of your past. Your mind is full of anchors to moments that you relive without even knowing it, so make use of that ability and start recording things you like, with your camera and your mind.

So, where does photography enter the picture, if you pardon the pun. If in your opinion all this anchoring and reliving past memories is just nonsense, keep on taking photographs and see for yourself if they bring up memories from the past later. The common knowledge is that the best camera is the one that you have with you, so if you’re not keen on carrying your DSLR or mirrorless around, most likely you still have a camera phone. It’s not the technical quality that makes photographs great, it’s the memories and feelings that the photographs bring forth. That’s the secret of all great photographers throughout history. They all took pictures that made you feel something. If you’re not planning to start a gallery and a career in photography, which is most likely the case, take pictures for yourself and try to collect memories in them. In fact all the pictures and videos in this article (except those attributed to being taken by others) are taken either with an old Nokia smartphone or a point & shoot camera, the model and make I don’t even remember.

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I wish there really were be a Vulcan mind meld technique from Star Trek series that allows two persons to share their minds. All I can is share some pictures I took in the past, but there is no way of giving you the opportunity to relive those moments. The closest thing that comes to my mind is that you reserve a plane ticket (opens flight reservations to Split) and go there (opens hotel reservations for Split), because it’s totally worth it.

[video poster="http://www.benamarphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/Mediterranean-Sunset.png" width="640" height="352" mp4="http://www.benamarphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/Mediterranean-Sunset.mp4"][/video]Mediterranean Sunset

Each passing day you are closer to your departure from this beautiful world, so don’t waste your time waiting for the retirement or something else. You, as a person, are a sum of your experiences, so waiting for the future in your 9-to-5 job is not going to make your life better. There is only one moment and that is now and it’s up to you how to use it.

If anything is worth doing, do it with all your heart.
— Buddha

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