How can photographs influence our personal memories? The human mind actively produces visual autobiographical evidence through photographs and also modifies it through pictures. In the analogue age, family albums used to be the main means for autobiographical remembering and the most reliable aid for recall and for verifying 'life as it was'. According to Sontag (1973), through photographs, each family constructs a portrait chronicle of itself – a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness. Through taking and organizing pictures, individuals articulate their connections to, and initiation into, clans and groups, emphasizing ritualized moments of aging and of coming age.
According to Barthes (1981) having one’s photograph taken is a closed field of forces where four image-repertoires intersect: ‘the one that I think I am’ (the mental self-image); ‘the one I want others to think I am’ (the idealized self-image); ‘the one the photographer thinks I am’ (the photographed self-image); and ‘the one the photographer makes use of when exhibiting his ‘art’ (the public self-image or image) (p.13). Research has also shown that people create false memories of their pasts on the basis of unaltered and doctored pictures. Research results by Wade et al (2002) focusing particularly on the role of doctored photographs in relation to false memory show that most of the subjects constructed false memories out of old personal memories that were carefully retouched to depict a scene that has never happened in that person’s life.