How to Photoread:
As I've described before, previewing the material, or pre-reading, is an important step to reading, and helps the brain warm up to what it is that you're going to be reading. You want to familiarize yourself with the title, author, time period, table of contents, back cover, and its a good idea to scan the first paragraphs of the chapters as well. You want to have a strong understanding of the book that you're reading before you begin.

Page Scanning
Photo reading is simply scanning the page from top to bottom, down the center of the page, letting your eyes soak up everything that you're seeing. Really pay attention to key words and give yourself about a second on each page before turning. There should be no stops or hesitations, simply move forward and trust that your brain is visualizing and storing this information for later activation.


After your quick scan of all the pages in a chapter or book, there are a couple ways that you may choose to do your post-reading. You may want to go back through the book in the same way as before, with one second scans of each page. This should provide a bit more clarity on the general ideas. After finishing your book scanning, there should be topics and ideas that stick out in your mind that you'd like to return to for a deeper read. This is the point where you can return to speed reading and gain a more complete understanding of the topic at hand. The thing to remember about photo reading and speed reading is that you may want to go through a book a number of times to gain total comprehension. Multiple readings will truly cement the ideas in your mind and you will be still be reading books faster than you were previously.


I've talked about the Tony Buzan Mindmaps before, and its a great way to process everything you've just read and compartmentalize the information. After finishing your book, either on paper or in your head, you want to start making connections for everything you've read. Think of the main topics of the book, and branch out from there, recalling facts and ideas that are associated with the main topics. Ask yourself questions about the ideas that you've read, and if you can't answer those questions, return to your post-reading, and speed read through the key ideas. This mindmapping technique will give you the ability to more easily recall information that you've read in the future.

The Test:
To test out photoreading, I chose a short story, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , and I devoured it in a very short session. However, after scanning each page for a second or two, I felt like I retained very little of what I was reading. I could only grasp the main ideas (BTW, still haven't seen the movie...). When you're reading a great author, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, you want to take it all in and enjoy what you're reading!

I will say this- if I were reading a non-fiction book, and I wanted to learn something in a short period of time, or at least grab the main idea of a book, this would definitely be a viable method. This would allow me to seek out the interesting content, go back and speed read through it, and get through the book at a much faster pace than my previous reading habits allowed.

My very short experiment with photoreading does NOT reflect the potential of this method, and it may even be worth revisiting in the future and spending an entire 30 days to see better results. I've learned that with speed reading, practicing at high speeds at first seems difficult, but with continued practice, peripheral vision increases, eye movement gets more efficient, and you begin to more easily process information in large chunks. It would take more practice and testing to determine if I could truly photoread while maintaining my overall level of comprehension. While the verdict is still out for me, photoreading is at the very least an interesting way to explore the capabilities of the mind and its ability to rapidly comprehend large chunks of information.

Author's Bio: 

Ben writes about exploring new topics for 30 days and shares tips along the way. Follow along in the learning journey at