Go. See. Photograph. Remember.

The Mittens at sunset – Monument Valley, UT

We all should go on vacations and trips.  We also should make photos on these vacations AND we should look at them often.  Here’s why.

Sunrise storm in Bryce Canyon, UT

Several years ago, I read three books straight through about “happiness” (Stumbling on Happiness, The How of Happiness, and Happier).  One of the ideas I got from all of them is that we should go on vacations that create happy memories.  We should also make photos of those trips, AND, we should re-live the trips by looking at the photos frequently.

Badwater, Death Valley, CA

Apparently, our brain really does not know the difference between actually going on the trip and looking at photos of a trip that triggers happy memories.  This is the same phenomenon, but the reverse of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Maybe it should be called Post Happiness Experience Syndrome.  Essentially, every time you look at photos of a favorite vacation and remember the trip, your brain “lives” it again and releases happiness chemicals.

Another way to explain this phenomenon is that we have an “experiencing self” and a “remembering self”.  The “remembering self” wants to maximize the quality of our future memories by creating stories that we can go back to over and over again.  When we remember an experience, we always remember the “peak” and the “end.”

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The implications of this of course, is we all should go on vacations.  We also need to plan for a great peak experience and a great ending.  We also need to make photos while on vacation.  Lastly, we also ought to “print” or save the photos in a way that we can look at them frequently.

Tucson, AZ

After one of our trips, Mary always makes a photo book.  She also keeps a Year Book that she updates each month that documents our smaller outings whether related to photography or not.  Lastly, I keep all of our photos on my iPAD so that I can look at them frequently and also show others.  So, everyone get out there and go on vacation; travel to beautiful and interesting places; make photos; and look at them often.

Ouray, CO

To see more of our photos, please go to www.pamphotography.com.


  1. Mark McDermott

    Great subject for a blog! I loved it and the photos of you two…Now excuse me, I have to get back to finishing the book from our New Zealand trip 18 months ago! (And Greenland…and Italy…)

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