Scientific American has some interesting information for visual rhetoric.
[R]esearchers found that an attractive image is not more likely to be recognized. Rather â€œmemÂorability seems more related to strangeness, funniness or interestingness,â€ says Phillip Isola, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a lead researcher on the study.
Having people in the pictureâ€”even if they are strangersâ€”also help make a photo more memorable, as does the impliÂcation of movement, such as a person running or waves crashing. Human-scale objectsâ€”chairs and cars rather than valleys and planetsâ€”similarly plant themselves in our mind.
Still, scenes that lack these attributes are not doomed to be forgotten. Simple changes can increase their memÂorability, such as the presence of a tiny hiker in the backÂground of a mountainous panorama. So the next time youâ€™re out to take a memorable shot, make it interestingâ€”not just pretty.
Very useful information for my students, I think. I will have to look up the study, if the conference proceedings are available. It was “presented at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in June.”