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What is Photo Reading?

Medium Wanda

Medium Wanda

Staff member
Aug 8, 2022
You may be familiar with the different types of reading taught in schools which include, skimming, scanning, and extensive and intensive reading. These types of readings have proven effective as students or readers generally have been able to incorporate them into their reading culture.

However, there are advanced types of reading. These types of reading seem almost impossible as they follow a kind of pattern that's too irregular for average persons. Among them, we have PhotoReading.

Paul R. Scheele, the originator of photo reading, explained the rudiments and how to 'photo read' in his book Photo Reading.

According to photo readers, they can read about 25,000 words in one minute. To be more explicit, it means they can read a full page in one second. What this implies is that photo readers can finish a 169 pages book within 3 minutes.

If you didn't know the technique behind it, photo reading will seem like witchcraft. Because even with speed reading, you can't finish a 169-page book in 30 minutes. The least you can do is to finish the book in 45 minutes and that's if you manage to read 800 words per minute.

So how then is it possible to photo read? What's the secret behind it? Continue reading to learn more.

Photo Reading is Not Speed Reading​

If you're only familiar with the normal types of reading, you'd have a tough time believing that photo reading is possible or to say the least, effective.

In the early part of his book, even Mr Scheele agrees that Photo reading is not possible but not without proffering the solution and revealing how possible it is in the subsequent parts of the book.

According to Mr Scheele, before you can photo read, you should first get familiar with the reading material. This means that one should peruse the whole reading material by just flipping through it to grasp what the content is about. From going through the table of contents to the chapter title and then the entire book. However, these exercises take time.

Now, still according to Scheele, one should engage in some exercises like Yoga or one should take time to relax and calm down. These too take time. After that, you can proceed to photo-read the reading material with X-ray vision, by doing so, the right brain cortex grabs and processes the whole material within seconds. This theory can be considered to be superficial because as a rule, the brain cannot process what the eye didn't see.

The photo reading process is faster than even speed reading, meaning that the brain can not grasp the whole information at once. So you'll have to reread the book to process what you've just read and this too takes extra time. And lastly, you'll have to review the book again, taking note of the important points, headlines and titles. This process all takes time.

In the end, you cannot use 3 minutes to review a 169 pages book and understand it at once. But at the same time, when you follow the process exactly the way it has been written down by Mr Scheele, you may be able to photo read and grasp the necessary information that you need. Therefore, this leads to the next point; how to photo read.

How to photo read​

There are pretty simple steps to photo reading that has proven useful and effective. To get photo reading right, you have to follow the steps that will be explained in subsequent paragraphs. But before that, here's a technique that can put your mind in the right and ideal learning state.

The name of this technique to master effective photo reading is the tangerine technique. Here's how it goes:

First, you get into a relaxed mode, a state where both your body and your brain are free of stress. Then you imagine yourself holding a tangerine in your hand. Bring yourself to feel the weight, rotate it and even imagine yourself smelling it.

Next, still in your imagination, imagine that you move that tangerine to the back of the head while you're doing that, you're maintaining a slow and steady breath, drawing the breath in through your nose and letting it out of your mouth.

Once you've completed this, then shut your eyes and imagine your peripheral vision opening while you're still holding on to the tangerine in your imagination and placing it at the top of your head. After this, you can open your eyes and you'll discover that your body is in a more relaxed state than earlier. This technique helps to focus your attention on the task ahead and helps your mind connect with the book.

5 steps to photo reading​

  1. Prepare​

For effective photo reading, you have to first state your purpose for reading a book. That is to state the reason why and what you hope to gain from reading the book. Then you get into a relaxed mode as explained above.
  1. Preview​

This involves scanning through the reading materials briefly and deciding whether you want to go through the photo reading process.
  1. PhotoRead​

Before you proceed with this, you have to make sure that your mind is settled and relaxed free from any form of distraction.

Then you channel your mind to enter into PhotoFocus mode. To do this, relax your eyes so that if you were to glance at a normal book, you can easily see all the edges even though the text in the book may seem blurry and defocused.

But this is where you have to relax your physiology, then you'll discover that as you flip through the pages, you start to see a blip through the pages. Here's how this works: when you hold out a finger on both of your hands, set it in front of your eyes and widen your peripheral vision, you may notice an additional third finger which appears and disappears.

This doesn't happen overnight as it usually takes more practice and only works when you're in a relaxed state of mind.

Then you can go ahead to turn the page slowly but at a consistent pace( a page a second) while activating the photo focus mode and maintaining your relaxed mood.

One of the recommended ways to block out distractions is to chant the word 'relaaaaaax' repeatedly as you flip through the pages.

However, you should note that the PhotoRead is not a conscious process, you may not have a conscious interpretation of what you're reading but your subconscious will be able to interpret it.
  1. Post view​

At this point, you'll have to pay more attention to the details of the book. You'll have to employ the scanning method of reading here as you scan through the reading material again. But at this point, you'll be on the lookout for power words that grab your attention. Write out whichever trigger words connect with you (remember your purpose for reading the book).

These power words plus your purpose for reading the book pop up some questions in your mind that you must provide answers to.
  1. Activate​

This is the part where you let your consciousness come into play. It is most recommended that you take a break after this process to allow your brain to process the information that it took in. The break could be a 20 minutes break or even an overnight break. This is enough time for your brain to process all the information.

Then you go ahead to review the questions you set for yourself during the post view. There are three recommended reading techniques you can employ during the activation stage. They include Super Reading, Dipping and Skittering.

To super read, you have to scan through the page while maintaining a soft gaze, a relaxed mind and using your peripheral vision to grab words on your left and your right. But you have to maintain a consistent rhythm as different trigger words and sentences may grab your attention.

As this happens, you can proceed to dip into the text and read a sentence until you have gotten what you hoped to get from the passage. Then you repeat the super reading process until you have found another reason to dip into the text again.

Furthermore, create a mind map. Because the more you use trigger words, key terms and images the better you become accustomed to the photo reading technique.

After this process, you may want to go back to the text to get more clarity on certain ideas in the book. If you feel the need for this, then you can go back at your convenient time to read it. But note that you've been able to erase irrelevant information from your line of vision. This is known as Rapid reading.

On a final note;​

This article is just a brief explanation of what photo Reading is all about. As you must have learned, photo reading will prove very effective if incorporated into your reading culture. With regular practice and more information on PhotoReading, you should be able to start PhotoReading in a short while.
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