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Feature: Are you making up your childhood?!

Can we trust our own memories?!

5 min read

I am very intrigued in the idea of memories. What do we remember, and why. What prompts us to have those amazing flashbacks where you can remember the heat of the sun, the taste of the ice cream, the feel of the sea breeze. Are they even real!?

According to this article on the BBC, they might not be:


"Around four out of every 10 of us have fabricated our first memory, according to researchers. This is thought to be because our brains do not develop the ability to store autobiographical memories at least until we reach two years old"


I used to think I had a very good memory for recall, particularly of my childhood. I thought I could remember exact moments, what I was wearing, what I was doing and where I was going. It was not until recently, when looking back through old family albums, I came to the realisation that a lot of my childhood memories are based entirely on photographs and the stories associated with those photographs.


One in particular was when I was very lucky to meet Donald Duck in real life (well, I felt very lucky…I was 3!) I remember it so clearly, how I felt, where it happened and what I was wearing. I don’t remember much else from this holiday…and I then noticed that my parents still have the picture of this meeting in a frame at their house, and a story to match that they still tell to anyone who looks vaguely interested! Do I remember it, or has my subconscious just taken this in over the last 30 years. Either way, it’s a memory I treasure, and one that perhaps without the photograph and the small details in the story, would be lost.

A child looking at a star rainbow light


This is an extract from the same article about childhood memory:


“While infants can make memories, they are not long-lasting,” says Catherine Loveday, an expert in autobiographical memory at the University of Westminster. The flurry of new cells forming in the brains of young children are thought to disrupt the connections needed to store information long-term. It’s why most of us have few memories of our childhood by the time we are adults. Other studies have shown that a form of“childhood amnesia” seems to kick in once we reach the age of seven years old.


As humans we love having a narrative, a story that makes up our lives. Yet, there is a childhood shaped chunk that according to research we won’t really remember. This is why, taking photographs of the small details, the ones with silly stories attached and saving them in some format (an album, a frame, a memory  box) is so important.


I always tell clients who call to chat about the possibility of a shoot that life happens in the daily moments, the moments that seem mundane and forgettable. You do not need a special occasion to protect your children’s memories. Keep their childhoods safe and book a family photoshoot. Some clients have a family shoot every year, capturing a snapshot in time of their children, and it’s a real honour to watch them grow. Each year, there’s a new phase, a new quirk, the little details that might otherwise get forgotten.


Are your childhood memories safeguarded by photographs!?

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