Photogenic vs photographic

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Photogenic and photographic are two words that are very close in spelling and pronunciation but have very different meanings. Both words are related to photography. We will look at the difference in meaning between photogenic and photographic, as well the common roots of the two words. In addition, we will provide examples.

Photogenic describes someone who has physical attributes that appear attractive in photographs. Photogenic may also refer to a place or thing that appears attractive in photographs, but the word usually applies to a person. In biology, the word photogenic describes an organism that produces light. Another word for photogenic is bioluminescent. Examples of photogenic organisms are fireflies and lanternfish.  The word photogenic comes from the Greek words photo which means light and genic which means produced by. The adverb form is photogenically.

Photographic describes something that is related to the art of taking photographs or something that resembles a photograph, because of its clarity and detail. One may describe a piece of equipment such as a lens as photographic if it’s used in photography. A drawing that is finely detailed may also be described as photographic. The word photographic also comes from the Greek word photo meaning light and the suffix -ic which means having the nature of. The adverb form is photographically.

Photographic Memory 

Photographic memory, also known as eidetic memory, is defined by the ability to totally recall images and text from memory with almost exact accuracy, even if they were only exposed for a short time. 

This is referred to as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) and is a defined neurological condition that is considered extremely rare, with fewer than 100 people worldwide  identified with it. People who have been diagnosed don’t have any enhanced intellectual abilities that most people, but are better at retaining memories. 

There are many people who claim to have a photographic memory. Although they may have better abilities than most to recall pages of text and images, unless they are diagnosed with HSAM they aren’t considered to have a true photographic memory.


In an interview with Mashable, the Amsterdam food stylist said she likes to create fresh take ideas on classics using new techniques, and avocado is a perfect ingredient because “it’s so photogenic and, of course, yummy.” (The National Post)

IT has been revealed that the ultimate winner for Swaziland’s Top Photogenic Model will walk away with the grand prize of E15 000. (The Swazi Observer)

A total of £300 worth of photographic equipment and £50 in book tokens will be on offer to the winners. (The Chester Chronicle)

But although Nielson is raising awareness of an important issue, she has done so with a dull, quasi-photographic painting. (The Sydney Morning Herald)