How To Get Photographic Memory Instantly

| By Mike Michalowicz (Google+)

Before you read this post I need you to make me a promise. I need you to promise that you will share this post with at least one friend if you are able to achieve something that you knew (believed) was impossible. Then, I want you to promise me that you will never again believe anything to be impossible, that you will commit to finding a way, no matter what.

OK, OK, it’s a big promise. But by the end of this post you will be chomping at the bit to share this with a friend, I assure you.


Ready? Here We Go. . .

Random Stuff For Photographic Memory

Do you have a photographic memory?  Do you have the ability to perfectly recall a long list of random ideas, thoughts or things?  If someone tested you right now, I would bet you don’t have a photographic memory. Actually 99.997% of the world population doesn’t have it, so I doubt you do.  Or better said, I doubt you believe you do.

If I gave you 20 random items to remember – in order – could you do it? Let’s try it out. Read this list and try to remember all 20 items on the list in order.

1. Rusty razor blade, 2. Goalie mask, 3. Red VW bug, 4.Blender, 5. Coffee cup, 6. Brown paper bag, 7. Chess set with a broken white king piece, 8.Marble statue, 9.Megaphone, 10. Shower curtain, 11. Canopy bed, 12. Plaid wool blanket, 13. Pencil, 14. Salt shaker, 15. Wooden baseball bat, 16. Private jet, 17. White apron, 18.Button, 19. Superman costume, 20. Fluorescent light bulb

Now from memory, write down the seventh item on the list. No cheating! Next, write down the third item, then the 17th item, and finally the 12th item. If you’re not sure, just give your best guess.

How many did you get? None, right? (If you did get one or two right, you’re amazing! You should be a spy. Stop reading this post and call the CIA.)

The truth is, you DO have a photographic memory. You just don’t know it yet.  And since you never believed you could do it, you probably never tried.  And by not trying you have affirmed yourself to be right… that you DON’T have a photographic memory.  But I am here to tell you, that you do.
There’s a method to help you unlock your natural ability to remember things photographically. If you follow this method, you will harness that power by the end of this blog post.


Mnemonic Memory

Mnemonic memory the key to photographic memory and total recall

First, you must BELIEVE that it is possible for you to have a photographic memory. More than that, you must BELIEVE that it it’s EASY to have a photographic memory – especially for you.

The trick is, your mind work best with pictures and associations, not repetition. So the first step to your new found photographic memory is to create an association of pictures. Start by memorizing an easy rhyming list of pictures for each number, one through ten. This will be your anchor list. Here’s what I use, and suggest you use the same:

1. Gun

2. Shoe

3. Tree

4. Floor

5. Bee hive

6. Pile of sticks

7. Heaven

8. Skate

9. Slime

10. Hen

Next review the random list of 20 random items below.  Here’s the list I will use as an example for the rest of the exercise:

1. Golden goose egg, 2. Firefly, 3. Paint roller, 4. Diamond ring, 5. Stop sign, 6. Kitchen table, 7. Ticket stub, 8. Leather jacket 9. Ice cream cone, 10. ATM machine, 11. Scalpel, 12. Champagne bottle, 13. Stroller, 14. Couch, 15. Rose bush, 16. Swimsuit, 17. Rotting apple, 18. Candy cane, 19. Cowboy boots, 20. Train


Link The Anchor List To The Items To Remember

Now, when you look at the first item on the new list (golden goose egg), associate it with the first word from the anchor list (gun). For example, picture a gun shooting out a golden goose egg. Picture it in detail, your arm holding out a gun, smoke rising from the gun, and a golden goose egg shooting out.  The more details, the better. The more color to your mental picture, the better.

Visualize a connection between the second word (firefly) and the corresponding word on your anchor list (shoe).  Picture the firefly trying to carry a shoelace off the shoe. Imagine how hard the firefly is trying, how small the firefly is compared to the shoe, whatever detail you can conjure up to connect the firefly with the shoe.

Before you move on to the third item on the random list of things, recap the first two.  What was the gun shooting? Right, the golden goose egg.  How about the shoe?  What was going on there?  Right a firefly was trying to take off with the shoelace in tow. Then start on the next word. Keep doing this for the first ten items on the list.

Now stack the pictures. When you get to the eleventh item (scalpel), go back to the first image (a gun shooting out the golden goose egg) and add the scalpel to it. For example, you might have a scalpel stuck in the golden goose egg that is shooting out of the gun.  Gross yoke nastiness flying out, just for effect.

Continue to the next object.  For example, the firefly that is trying to pickup the shoe’s shoelace, now has to struggle with one itsy bitsy arm to lift the Champagne bottle he is carrying (Dom Perignon that he bought on sale, of course).  Oh, the horrible life a firefly can lead.   Follow this stacking method for the remaining objects on the list.



Congratulations, you now have a photographic memory! Don’t believe me? Let’s test it out. Use your anchor list to guide you.  I don’t expect you to have the rhyming down just yet, so it’s OK to look at the anchor list of above.

Let’s start with, hmmm, number two.  Two is shoe.  OK, what is happening with the shoe? Right!  The firefly.  OK how about number eight.  Eight is skate, and what did you have going on with the skate?  Excellent!  Now number 11.  OK the anchor for 11 was the gun. Since it is over 10, it is going to be the stacked image… OK, what was going on with the gun.  Yes, the golden egg. And what’s stacked with the egg. YES!  The scalpel. Try it for five, now.  How about 18?  How about ten and then 20?  Damn… You are good. No, no.  You are really good.

Surprised? Did you just achieve the impossible?

You’re welcome. Now share this!

BTW – If you are interested in learning more about the subject, read this book (my personal favorite): Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

Posted in Entrepreneur Strategies, Mindset,

68 Responses to “How To Get Photographic Memory Instantly”

  1. Misty says:

    This was amazing! I was able to remember every single item from the list. My AP Psychology teacher hates this method, but now I love it! Thank you!

  2. Tim says:

    This is probably the best example of how to use mnemonic techniques to memorise lists. Having said that, mnemonic’s aren’t regarded as photographic memory, and theres a big difference between using these techniques and being able to “scan” and visualise images or text in 1 go. Still, this is very useful

  3. Mahsi says:

    Okay I just tried this.had someone write down a random list of words and then with the mnemonic thing I wrote down a visual thing for each one. I waited a few minutes and regurgitated the list…..I could not write as fast as I was remembering it! defiantly going to use this to help me study! Just have to figure out how it works with vocab for Spanish…..

  4. elena says:

    How to get photographic memory in Math esp. in problem solving case with formula, equation & answer…. like algebra? i need to memorize the answer one packet for tomorrow’s exam. Pls. help….Thanks!!!

  5. Azeidith says:

    now can one go over photographic memorization and get video/movement memorization that would be amazing

  6. emmanuel says:

    it is effective..just visualise..anything that can help you visualise that word is ok
    ..your true memory will supply of what you’ve been memorised before
    ..relax and visualise..

  7. ZachB#4 says:

    Dang!!! I’m so surprised. It actually works. I just freaked out my brother… He is so confused. Lol

  8. lostinspace says:

    im sorry but this did not work at all for me.

  9. […] Or when you meet a Helen, you picture her on a ship laying siege to Troy. Get the idea? 7. Use pictorial storage to remember lists of items. First, create an anchor list of rhymes associated with numbers. I use […]

  10. voultz says:

    Hello there Mike!

    I am studying law school as of the moment and being a law student requires me to memorize verbatim legal definitions and provisions of law. How ca you apply this in memorizing lengthy sentences or paragraphs? Or are there any different methods?

    Thanks, it would be a big help if you can answer.

  11. Andrew Houston says:

    This is a great technique Mike. This week I tried it out on some of my students who are studying English as a Second Language. They knew all the root words like 1. Gun 2. Shoe etc… But then I attached words they had questions about to the root words. Each student walked out of class with 20 extra words in their vocabulary. I tested them on it later in the week to see how much they retained. 100% of the students retained 100% of the words and were able to use their new found vocabulary properly and with ease! Thanks Mike!

  12. […] Use pictorial storage to remember lists of items. First, create an anchor list of rhymes associated with numbers. I use […]

  13. Fran says:

    works for me.I very quicklyi remember definitions after i readed thi page.Before it was much harder

  14. lenny says:

    now I have a talent my whole family does but me but now I do thanks mike

  15. Elian says:

    Worked :) I shared this page in my FB profile :)

  16. Piccolo says:

    Didnt work :(

  17. swagginonyomama says:

    Thank you so much Mike this was actually really cool

  18. Shampagne says:

    Amazingly enough, I was able to write down all the correct items (#’s 7, 3, 17, and 12) without cheating. I don’t have an eidetic memory, though. I think people focus on things and remember them better when they know they’re going to be asked about it.

  19. suffo says:

    Well, thanks but this is easy. I always form myself a story when i try
    to imagine objects. But when it comes to expressions, not objects its a
    different league but same technique.
    for example i picked:
    box, shoe, build, angry, shout, regulate, cut, fill.

    story: a hand picks up a box and places a show into it. watching out
    the window i see a market being built, the constructor got angry and
    shouts at the workers. they give him money to regulate his anger. then
    someone cuts a stone and fills up the forgotten brick.

    the story
    took about 10 seconds to remember and since its just visually, not
    defined by words you can remember it even backwards without mistakes.

    i did it with objects: throusers, pen, feather, school, worm, owl,
    knight, heart, atom, cattle, thief. Story was: i see someone with
    throusers, putting a pen in his pockets, then a feather falls on his
    head, remembering him that he has to go to school, he goes outside and
    falls over a worm, an owl flies by and picks up the worm, then a knight
    rides by and pierces the owl on his lance, which breaks his heart and he
    dies. in the background is a nuclear facility, with a two headed cattle
    in front which gets stolen by a thief……well, you cant forget this

  20. Matt says:

    Right so studying right now needless to say is a real pain, some kids in my class just work their butts off and only get mediocre results. So I decided to Google my problem with not being able to memorize well enough, and found your neat little site. Although, yeah the results do seem pretty neat, but will it work with other languages?
    Having the ability to speak different languages nowadays is priceless, so my parents are pushing to learn Chinese, and even though I have it in my blood, it’s not coming naturally. I know the chances of this method working with languages, more English related are much more easier than Chinese and other oriental languages, but I just thought I’d ask and see if you have any bright ideas.

    • They absolutely do. Mnemonics is a bridge to mastering the language at a natural level. Look on Amazon for memory techniques and specific to language. There are tons of resources….

  21. Dana says:

    How can I use this to memorize vocabulary words with definition?? Can you give me an example??

    • Dana – You make the word into objects. For example, say the word is justification. The definition is: a reason fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends.

      Then you would take the word justification and see if you can break it into objects. Like “a judge (or a justice)” on “vacation”. With that picture of a judge on vacation in your mind, you can have him trying to give reasons, explanation and defending why he is on vacation, and wearing his robe, etc.

      When you rehearse the words (or whomever is) and hear justification, go first to the mnemonic picture. Then with the picture in your mind, explain what is happening and the definition comes back.

  22. Panther says:

    I can’t believe this. You promised us Photographic memory, and you show us some pre-school level method of association/mnemonic device. I don’t know about you, but I have done this since I attained consciousness. You must be some kind of idiot to think you can pass this along as photographic memory. Do you realize how long this takes? I don’t want to tie strings around my fingers, I want to be like those super-humans out there that take up less than 99.997% of the population.
    Do your research. Obviously you don’t care if someone can be superior to you, and you could give a flip less about being something extraordinary. Good Day, sir.

    • I am so sorry that my article made you so angry. I am also sorry it didn’t come close to your expectations. I hope you can find some resources that are better suited for you. Please know I am wishing you the absolute best in finding what you seek.

    • kelly says:

      Panther, I think the idiot is most definitely, you, Sir!

    • Kyle says:

      No need to be an ass hole. Mike was just trying to do people a favor and help out. If you don’t enjoy the article then just leave the website.

  23. Kate says:

    Hi there, this is great it was successful for me. I was wondering as I am still in school, if it would work with large amounts of content from a text book information or is it just fo objects?
    Thank you

    • Hi Kate – Yes it does. The key is to assign a picture to a piece of information. For example maybe you remember that George Washington was born in Wakefield, VA and that his religion was Episcopalian.

      The technique is to make a visual of GW in your mind. Then link a picture of a wake (for Wakefield). Have George standing, leaning against a coffin for someone’s wake. And in the coffin is a baby being born (I know the picture may be crazy or gruesome, but it is easy to remember). Then when you think of George Washington, you know instantly… the coffin… at a wake, baby being born.. He was born in Wakefield, VA.

      Maybe you have George taking a piss too (I know, not a flattering picture… but easy to remember). Then you will remember he is ePIScopalian.

  24. Panth300 says:

    I was amazed! I will keep my promise and share this with my friends!

  25. [...] How To Get Photographic Memory Instantly – Mike Michalowicz Do you have the ability to perfectly recall a long list of random ideas, thoughts or things? If someone tested you right . White apron, 18.Button, 19. Superman costume, 20. Fluorescent light bulb. Now from memory, write down the seventh item on the list. No cheating! Next, write down the third item, then the 17th item, and finally the 12th item. If you're not sure, just . The trick is, your mind work best with pictures and associations, not repetition. So the first step to your  [...]

  26. Ross says:

    Wow, I was able to remember all of the items. That would be a first ever and I am not a visual person at all.
    I will have to come up with a list of my own to remember.

    I did have a hard time remembering the Rotting apples. I had to finish the list and then go back but I remembered once I went back to it. I don’t think of them when I think of heaven.

    • Happy it worked. Often when you struggle remembering something it is because you didn’t start with a great visual. Make the picture in your mind detailed, in color, with action/motion, smell, sounds. The more senses you can invoke the easier and easier it is to remember.

  27. Jenny Waters says:

    I love this! I am very visual, so it was fairly easy and I am going to try to remember the number associations. Thank you for sharing this.

  28. Chantal10 says:

    Oops, I just memorised the whole anchor list before doing anything… I don’t think I had to/was supposed to…

    • That is ok…. in fact that is what you want to do. That is why the anchor is based on rhyme. Once you memorize the anchor list that way, you can then use the association of visuals to memorize anything else.

  29. NO NAME says:

    took me about 10 minutes to do this. sheesh it was confusing but still got it,thanks alot

  30. Louise says:

    I only managed to get the first 3 words, I have a terrible memory.

    • Try again. But concentrate. Really focus on the visuals. See them in color, add motion and if you can add other senses – sounds, smell, touch. The more vivid the picture the easier to remember. Don’t give up.

  31. Spencer says:

    I can’t memorise anything (I just failed my Spanish speaking examination because I couldn’t remember what to say) and this word association thing did not work for me either.

  32. Mik says:

    That was pretty awesome. Putting the whole is it photographic memory vs just an association tactic aside. It is a remarkable way to memorize things that have nothing to do with each other. But, what I also liked was that it helps you understand how the brain learns or remembers best. Not by repetition, but rather by association.

    TIP: I would also try to memorize the rhyming list by association as well, I know it helped me memorize it quickly. Picture somebody shooting a block number “1″ block with a gun etc.

  33. Brian Yun says:

    Even though it is not the ultimate way to gain eidedic memory, its a great way to start your first step to it. After practicing for few days, I can remember any list of 1 to 30 in less than 10 seconds and it lasts for hours to days.

    Try to come up with a story that is funny, sexual, violent, anything that will stimulate the brain. I find that very helpful.

  34. Mimi says:

    True that this is not the technique to gain Eidetic Memory and may not be applied everywhere.Like when you are trying to read some complex technical book and remember what you read in just one go,but still it is a great technique and nice post.It can applied when trying to remember simple stuffs and will be very useful for kids for increasing their memory and making their imagination more active.
    So thanks a lot.

    • Thanks Mimi. You are correct. I have found this to be a power first step to memory improvement. I think it awakens readers to what their real capabilities are. When someone reads this, my hope is that they are so inspired that they try the other, harder, memory techniques.

    • Anders says:

      The article is on the topic of Photographic memory. The techniques discussed therein fall far beneath the article topic. It’s like saying “you want a photographic memory? here’s a paper and pen, write everything down! Tada!”. The title of this article is so far from the point it doesn’t do Mike justice.

  35. [...] Learn the core technique of photographic memory. By the end of the article you will be able to prove it to yourself. . . you will have photographic memory!  [...]

  36. BigDaddy says:

    This is called word association and memorization and is NOT the same thing as eidetic memory (photographic memory). Please realize the difference.

  37. Annabel, Florida says:

    This has been amazing. My 12 year old daughter struggles with test anxiety and said she wished she had photographic memory. So I found this site for her. She aced the lists by visualization. Plus she was able to answer all you questions by linking both lists. She was so pleased and I was so amazed. Lifted her self confidence greatly.

    • Annabel – That is WONDERFUL news. My daughter (she is 14) also uses this technique for school and has lifted all her grades. School (for better or for worse) focuses on memorization. Vocab definitions for example. Tell your daughter to look for pictures that she can convert the words into and then make that picture do the definition in an activity. The weirder the better.

      For example: Idiosyncratic

      You can picture an “idiot” in the beginning. And possible a kitchen “sync”. So the visual is an idiot with dunce cap and all doing dishes at the sync. And because the definition is someone or something that is peculiar… the idiot at the the sink can through the dishes on the floor and smash them everytime a dish is cleaned… which is very peculiar.

      Ironically the more detail you give to the picture the better. Try in your mind to give color, sounds, smell and touch. You (and your daughter) will be able to remember tons of stuff this way.

      • Annabel, Florida says:

        Thank you. I just asked her again today if she could recall the lists. She remembered all of it without review and it has been a few days since she last looked at the lists. Definitely proves to her how effective this technique will be for all her studies.

  38. [...] Learn the core technique of photographic memory. By the end of the article you will be able to prove it to yourself. . . you will have photographic memory!  [...]

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