Photographer with aphantasia

So I discovered that I have Aphatasia last year (2021) at the grand age of 66. I had never thought about it before – I know I forget books easily, I can never recall characters names or their situations. I do dream with pictures funnily enough . My husband finds it amusing that he can drive anywhere and I get lost very easily as I cannot visualise where I am.

My biggest oddity though is – I take photographs – I love photography even though I am a rank amateur. If I am asked to think of my oldest son in my head – I can bring to mind a photo of him – a specific photo – but not him – I have found that this works with places and people that I have photos of – it seems that if I have ther photograph I can visualise it but nothing else. Usually there is a big black hole . Oh I hear music all the time – constantly have a tune running through my head which I generally ignore.


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Hello Melody, thanks for sharing your experience.

We hear from many aphants that use photography as a means to collect and retain their memories. Aphantasia seems to have a strong overlap with another condition called SDAM, or severely deficient autobiographical memory. You can learn more about SDAM from Dr. Levine here.

You might also be interested in this article on Photography and Aphantasia by Master Photographer Chris Wookey.


As a professional photographer with both Aphantasia and ADHD (Aphantasia discovered 3 years ago, oddly at at age 66 as well) I find is seriously impacts my work in both positive and negative ways. The biggest negative is studio work. If you can’t pre visualize you waste a lot of time, but environmental portraits, landscapes, candids, I believe it benefits me because I do not have anything pre-planned and don’t have a vision in my head. I have to shoot what I see. Music and internal monologue? Constant. 

I am 63 and my middle sister is 65.  We are also aphantasic.  I’m wondering if it might have something to do with our childhood exposure to tetracycline, that caused our adult teeth to gray.

Could tetracycline exposure in childhood be linked to aphantasia?

I’m a professional photographer also. It seems quite common as has been suggested below.

Dear Melody:

I suspect that the photograph allows you to revisit and reinforce the memory. I have many childhood memories that are really of family Super-8 films or photos.  I saw the films many times, so my memory was reinforced.  I still don’t have visual imagery of it, but I can remember its aspects as a dialog.  I think the movies were especially good at creating long living memories.

I am 63, and I have a 65 year old sister, who are aphantasic.  We were also victims of a childhood tetracycline side-effect called tetracycline tooth staining, that made our adult teeth turn gray while they mineralized.  You are in the age group that may have been exposed to tetracycline as a child.  Do you know if you were?  I was wondering if there was a link to aphantasia.

Warmest regards,