Ramon Campayo's Photographic Reading

Has anyone tried Campayo’s Photographic Speed Reading technique? Basically, he says you photograph (not read) groups of 4-6 words at a time, and make a “mental video” or visualize what you read, as you read. Something along these lines.

Is this even feasible?

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I don’t know anything about “Campayo’s Photographic Speed Reading technique”. But it is very much possible to create/visualize the main points of a paragraph/chapter of a book and review them(like ‘mental video’).

I use this ‘convert main points of a page’ idea into images and I then put those images in the locations of a Mamory Palace. This is so effective to both comprehend and memorize the main contents of a book! Without converting the ‘texts to images’ and linking the images,I simply cannot remember the contents of a book well.

I think,it is possible to visualize 4-6 words at a time. Ramon Campayo’s claim is not completely baseless,I think! Mr. Harry Lorayne also suggests something like this in his books.

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IMO the whole speed reading thing is misguided. You can’t read any faster than your brain can process the information and that depends on the cognitive load, is the information easy to understand. And do you want to read a novel at a furious pace? About as enjoyable as a movie on Fast Forward.

I do read fast. In fact very fast. It comes from my background and the kind of work I did. But the real benefit is not the speed but the fluency. The ease. The low cognitive load. Reading is transparent. I’m not aware I’m doing it. The words just flow into my head.

Just like fluency in a language. You do want a certain basic speed but beyond that you want your thoughts to come out effortlessly. Mostly you are unaware of the process of constructing sentences and finding words. This makes it easy. You can devote all your attention to your ideas.

It’s possible a person has bad habits that make it more work. Moving your lips or silent or even mental vocalization (it’s okay to hear the words, but you’re not thinking about your vocal cords) and slow scanning.

You should be able to pick up whole phrases in a single eye plant. Mostly it’s only necessary to glance in three places on a line.

Other than a few things like that, the best way to learn to read easily and efficiently is to read a lot. A lot. Familiarity beats complexity. Read trashy novels or whatever is fun. Like an exercise program.

There may be people who can photograph a whole page with one glance and read it back from memory. I don’t believe this is something an ordinary person can train for. I suspect there’s a lot of flimflam mixed in with those claims. I mix with other people who do a lot of reading, some do it for a living. I’ve never met anyone with this kind of ability.

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I don’t have photographic memory. But I do convert texts of an article or book into images during reading. This is my default reading mode and I do it very fast and automatically. If I don’t convert the text of a book into images, I have hard time to understand, link and remember what I have read. I am not a speed reader,however. And I agree with you that the more you read, the better and faster you can read…

But I have seen a memory expert who does remember all articles from a newspaper page by page. So,it is possible to memorize articles. There are experts who have memorized oxford dictionary word by word(verbatim…search this forum)…

Never say,never!!! :slight_smile:

Your brain can process the entire page at once if you can ‘see’ it, this doesn’t imply you can read the words or discriminate effectively enough to understand what any of it means.

If you scroll your eyes across pages there is an increased ease, you can continue doing this for hours without getting as tired as most encoding methods, but there is less so retention and fluency. If you vocalise quickly for 2 hours straight you are almost guaranteed to feel enough tiredness to fall asleep before you reach the 1.5 hr mark.

mental vocalisation isn’t a bad habit, the only reason there is a slow down at all doing this is because you are processing the individual chunks of words at a rate of 15 chunks a second if you are fast.

The real reason there is an issue with this is the interference from the similarity and lack of encoding to distinguish anything or even make points. As such your memory is not going to do well. This is particularly why logical statements with many arguments will easily be ‘lost’ using this method. Yet if you are reading a novel, you won’t have too much of an issue keeping the points in mind.

I will be honest here, the reason why people who are reading continuously are not improving is simply because they are not actually going any faster. Their fluent comfortable pace being repeated even if they can go faster is not going to invite much more efficiency or speed.

Campayo’s Photographic Speed Reading technique is validly functional but falls under the issue that, there is usually a lack of encoding in-between chunks (a mental video is kind of a solution to this to be fair) and simply that 6 words at a time is around 400 words per minute if you take a second so you still have to be going quite quickly at it.

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I don’t understand what it means to “process a whole page” without understanding what it means? Of what value is this “process”

As I see it, the purpose of reading is either for information or entertainment. Otherwise what’s the point? Just to satisfy some school assignment to be able to say they got through it?

Do you actually read these images when you recall them or are they just there as a kind of support or context for the information you remember.

IMO to be able to just glance at a page and either read it or photograph a readable image requires a special natural talent that most people can’t train for. I have seen a documentary of a savant reading both pages simultaneously, one with each eye! Not entirely convinced but even so, this guy was deeply autistic.

I do believe that I could train myself to memorize a newspaper in 10 minutes. Not saying easily but it’s a reasonable expectation for anyone dedicated enough. News articles are designed for fast easy reading. They are often repetitive using a pyramid structure and the sentences are never complex. The writing is predictable. I can finish most of the sentences in my head. They are also not a lot of fun to read and there’s little temptation to savor the beauty of the prose.

The last time I was tested, now long ago, I scored 600 wpm on reading comprehension and the texts were very similar to news articles.

I can indeed go through a dense history book at blitz speed but only absorb a fraction of it. I can read a light novel very fast too, but what’s joy in that? It’s like watching a movie on fast fwd.

I can quick scan online articles very fast. Blogs, forums, articles. The information content is not very dense. This is very helpful in say Google searches where I am able to wow my friends with the speed at which I can sort through material. This does involve the kinds of techniques that have been discussed, looking over a whole page at once. But I am not reading so much as looking for markers. Is the presentation appropriate? I’ll read a few lines to test the quality of the text to see if the tone is right. Is it an academic paper, a news article, … And I will read enough to see how they are tackling the subject. But that’s just triage. To reject the junk and read what’s useful. Well that’s nice to have but it depends on familiarity with the look, feel and style of articles. There’s no magic in it. I’ve looked at a vast amount of that stuff.

You can recall the structure of the text, remember the fact that you have seen this particular structure and pick it out. There is little value to this but it is still processing the page. You can also get the sense of seeing the page and the text on it in your head but not being able to read it.

A way in which you could do this and have ‘understanding or memory’ of some sort is if you had a synesthesia alike association with the words or structure of words on the page that are evoked when you process it like this. Learning to convert text or streams of text to mental videos and images hopes to achieve something of this nature.

Savants who are capable of faster processing tend to exhibit similar properties. The point here is, the reason this doesn’t work well in general is because specific encoding is lacking not for any particular other reason. When you then use methods which do not encode or do so less you are doing a micro-version of this which compromises one way or the other.

@elitely Do you do the conversion (to images) on the fly as you read? Or do you come back to the text later and create your images?

Also, what kind of topics have you had success with? Some light reading (i.e. blogs, novels etc.) or something more complex (scientific or technical articles for ex.)?

How long did it take for you to get proficient with this approach?

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I don’t understand what you are trying to say here, though I get the feeling that you may be on to something interesting. Can you paraphrase/restate what you are trying to say? Thanks.

Okay, I will explain it.

The first issue is kind of fixed if you use a mental video because you are free to encode the entire meaning. If you use an image for a chunk of words. You may run into something like, let me give a simple example, ‘the man went up the hill’. If this is not a video but an image you have a few choices but problems, e.g you can see a picture of a man on a hill, walking/standing close to one. If you then do this quickly and have a lot of images you have to actively remember that the man is actually in the process of going up the hill, not standing still, not at the destination. This occurring for every image is going to make you lose sight of what is actually happening. If you have a short video of the man actually going up the hill in your mind you can see the full process information isn’t lost and neither is it less memorable. That was the first point I was making but to expand on this, I did ignore things like speech patterns. When you read in images/videos you won’t get a sense of ‘how the writer is communicating’ it would make it difficult to determine how they say certain things or how they would present others since its your own imagination rendering it. This is of course not an issue its perhaps even beneficial if you are doing this for your own sake. If you do mathematics or physics you can quickly see how this occurs, e.g deriving equations you can freely see how ‘someone/anyone can get to it’ , which you would have more trouble with just seeing the equation on its own.

As for my second point it was simply trying to express that, while people feel verbalising is slow, it is also not that slow. If you get significantly fast at verbalising you would more or less double your starting speed, and hit something around 500 wpm. Simple dividing this into how many words per second gives 500/60 -> 8-9 words a second. It simply means if you are going to benefit using something like “Campayo’s Photographic Speed Reading technique”, you should be aware that the significant benefits occur when you can process this chunk of 6 words at minimum of 2 chunks of 6 words a second, or if you are using 4 words, 3 chunks a second.

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Do you do the conversion (to images) on the fly as you read? Or do you come back to the text later and create your images?

Both. Sometimes,some lines of a paragraph get converted to images automatically/on the fly. Say,for example,this line: the universe is flat

When I read this line on universe being flat,I automatically see the the image of an universe flat like a plate!!! I don’t need to make myself visualize it intentionally.

However,for some paragraphs,I do come back to the text after going through the paragraph,and convert those paragraphs to images consciously/intentionally. I do this only if I want to ‘remember or store’ the main ideas from the paragraph in specific ‘loci/peg’ for long term memory! Usually,one or two images from one paragraph!

Also, what kind of topics have you had success with? Some light reading (i.e. blogs, novels etc.) or something more complex (scientific or technical articles for ex.)?

I am mostly interested in ‘non-fiction’ books. Basically,my interest in memory enhancement techniques took place,because I wanted to remember the books that I read. And I am a voluptuous reader of ‘non-fiction’ books. I am also a computer programmer. So,I needed ‘mnemonics’ to remember ‘functions/methods’ from programming books. And I use ‘text to image conversion’ techniques to store all the stuffs in my ‘memory pegs/palaces’.

I however never tried ‘physics,chemistry,biology’ books. Those are not my area of expertise or interest at the moment. But I will slowly get involved into them in future(just for knowledge shake)! :slight_smile:

How long did it take for you to get proficient with this approach?

Actually,I took a course from Udemy known as “Become a SuperLearner” back in 2016. I had been practicing the ‘text to image’ conversion since then,as is recommended by the author of the course. I have always been a very visual person. That course taught me following important things(that I didn’t know before…and helped me tremendously to utilize my visualization skill):

  1. At first,have a pre-made ‘loci/placeholder/peg’ for storing what you are reading in a book/article.
  2. After reading a paragraph,pause for two,three seconds. Convert the main ideas of the paragraph into image.
  3. Put the converted images into your pre-made ‘loci/placeholder/peg’(of point 1).
  4. keep doing this for each page/paragraph,etc,that you think important for you to keep in memory.
  5. etc…

It has been around 3 years now that I am using ‘text to image conversion’ technique. So,things are easier for me now than when I first started. And I love this ‘skill’ of mine. It is so helpful not only to store textual informations,it also helps me to store and remember office meetings,conversations,etc…. :slight_smile:

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Do you actually read these images when you recall them or are they just there as a kind of support or context for the information you remember.

I think,my approach is similar to Mattias Ribbing!

How was the course? I see that this is still being offered.

How do you review a book once you have completed this process? Mnemonics can be forgotten if not reviewed, right? Do you write these mnemonics down somewhere? Or do you use some software to store your associations?

Thanks again for being so generous with your time and advice.

How was the course? I see that this is still being offered.

I consider it one of the best courses on the topic of learning something faster. I recommend it to anyone interested in boosting up his/her reading(and storing info) skills.

How do you review a book once you have completed this process? Mnemonics can be forgotten if not reviewed, right? Do you write these mnemonics down somewhere? Or do you use some software to store your associations?

Yes,mnemonics will be forgotten if not reviewed time to time.

I use the cool “ANKI” software for reviewing what I learned/my mnemonics(and everything else). Anki is great for storing,organizing,reviewing data. And it is free! :slight_smile: