Taking Photos—Or Not

This has been on my mind lately. For years I’ve carried around notebooks to jot down stray thoughts, make lists to organize tasks, or to make a note about a work of art in a museum exhibit. I’m still carrying a notebook and still jotting notes, but the camera on my phone has begun to replace the third function of my notebooks. It may be too easy, but snap, snap and the work of art is noted; snap, snap and the legend (the accompanying information about the artist or specific work) is captured, too.

This is easy, convenient and saves me from my own atrocious spelling and occasionally illegible handwriting. (Yes, sometimes I cannot read my own writing.) But am I losing something when my notes on art are taken directly from the artwork and have not been filtered by my brain? Does the raw—although specific and accurate—information lose something because I’m not translating & transforming it as I go?

I know I’m not the only one snap, snapping before leaving a room filled with art. So I have to wonder if the process of recalling is changing in a larger sense. Does easy retrieval of information make it less valuable?

Now that’s something worth pondering!

How many times have you read a line or a phrase in a book and felt the words lingering in your head. You might even replay them or recite them to a friend—usually prefaced with, “it was something like this” or “the gist of it was…” Would total, correct, easy access to those phrases change that haunting feeling? On the other hand, accuracy is useful, especially when life is as peculiar as Oscar Wilde’s ‘Hunting of the Snark.’ I love the following lines, but my memory moves the words around in subtle ways.


He had bought a large map representing the sea,

Without the least vestige of land:

And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be

A map they could all understand.


So maybe I should stop worrying and snap, snap my notes?


A piece of a wall at the 1960s show at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

A piece of a wall at the 1960s show at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.


  1. I’ve thought about that a lot as I’ve written about my travels and especially given all of the tourists I’ve came across in national parks. My ex used to take a ton of pictures in art museums, but I don’t as much as he did. I do find that in museums I enjoy taking pictures of people taking pictures. It’s all quite meta 😉

    • Candy Korman

      I love pix of people taking pix!
      At the Museum of Modern Art, I often take pictures of people taking pictures of world-famous paintings—— Van Gogh’s Starry Night in particular. Sometimes I linger long enough to note whether the photographers take the time to just LOOK at the painting or if they are simply recording their visit. It is all META!!!