Back during the years of my BA, I tried to get a job with airport customs in Canada. One of the tests involved pictures of a bustling lobby with dozens of details. I then had to describe a large number of elements I had seen (20 or more). Amongst all of the tests, I did the best on this one, and this is some years before I really knew anything about memory skills or techniques.
But I remember quickly developing a kind of “ninja” mindset as I looked at the image, gobbling up the corners, the walls and then conceiving of the layout in quadrants before worrying about any of the details.
I would call this neither photographic nor visual memory.
It is strategic memory that involves visual elements.
Since that test and since my ever-increasing interest in location-based memory techniques has grown, I often think about why that particular approach worked so well, developed as it was, on the sly. I think it worked because it was kind of like assessing the chess board where the clue to understanding the center involves understanding the margins and vice versa. It’s the old “pay attention” rule at play too.
Trying to hold a scene is great visual training and cool ways to practice involve not only locations, but paintings, photographs and for movement, scenes from films.
In a way, scenes from films is a fascinating thing to replay in the mind because you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to do. And when you do it, notice how easily the background leaps out at you as you follow the action of the character.
Again, understanding the margins is the key to understanding the center and vice versa.