As we age, memory and cognitive function become a concern for many people. A recent study by the University of Texas shows that digital photography is one of the best activities for aging baby boomers who want to maintain and improve their cognitive health and development. The study followed four groups of seniors over three months while each group participated in one of four activities: digital photography, quilting with a computerized sewing machine, socializing and playing games, and listening to music and watching videos. Only the photography and quilting groups showed significant gains in memory.
Digital photography was found to help memory because it requires a series of continuous and prolonged mental challenges. Cognitive improvements found in the digital photography group included recognition of visual and conceptual imagery as well as improvements in the participants’ use of words and phrases. In order to be successful at digital photography, you need to use many parts of your brain and by using these parts of the brain, you are continually improving it.
There are two main skillsets required to be successful at digital photography: taking the shot and post-processing using photo editing software. These two skillsets use both the creative and technical sides of your brain. On the technical side, you need to learn how your camera works, including using advanced settings. Learning photo editing software for post-processing is also a technical skill. Creatively, you will be setting up a shot and learning how to position your subject matter within your camera’s frame and then learning how to get very creative with your post-processing skills while using your photo editing software.
Digital photography also offers the opportunity to get outside and have fun taking shots of nature which is also great for cognitive function. Get together with family or a group of friends and have fun experimenting with your cameras. Here are some tips to improve your digital photography skills while also working on your memory and cognitive function. Another great place to learn on-line is the Digital Photography School!
- Learn as much as you can about your equipment. This means reading your manual and learning what all the different settings of your camera do.
- Read photography books or follow photography blogs to learn tips and tricks from the pros.
- Practice using your camera in different lighting and with different settings to see how this affects your photos.
- Keep notes about your photos so you can recreate successful shots and avoid those that went wrong.
- Try different perspectives. Amateur photographs take most of their photos at eye level. Try taking shots by looking up or down at your subjects and see what you notice about the photos you take at those new perspectives.
- Improve your vision!
Many professional photographers get LASIK surgery to perfect their vision to eliminate the need for glasses or contacts to come between them and the camera. If you wear glasses and feel like it would be so much easier to take photos if you didn’t have to deal with them, contact OCLI today to find out if LASIK would be a good fit for you.