Some say that eidetic memory does not really exist, while others claim to have eidetic memory. I am not going to separate between myth and reality: I do not know where the line lies. What I can do is explain how each of us can enjoy small amount of eidetic memory which is available to each and every one of us. There are blog posts here and here that share similar insights.
What is eidetic memory? When we see something for a short while, it generates a sort of photographic image in our mind. Now we can access this photography several seconds or more after the initial exposure and gather details we want to use. This “photography” is probably stronger and lasts longer when there is a lot of adrenaline in our blood, so if you could mindfully generate adrenaline rush you could control the eidetic memory much better. There are accounts of martial artists, savants and illusionists who can generate eidetic memory for long periods of time.
I personally had such and experience with one old illusionist, who looked at a picture for very little time and then described it in great details several minutes later.
There is a way debated in literature of improving photographic memory via so-called “military method”. The person sits in dark room and sees short exposure of a scene of interest and then needs to describe the scene in great details. With practice, the accuracy of details becomes larger and exposure time becomes shorter, until we can get a very detailed account from split-second exposure.
Savants probably get the eidetic memory via strong focus and synesthesia. Using more senses and getting more focus on specific senses probably enables utilization of more brain power to memorize images. Since savants are born this way, it is very hard to understand how they develop and use their skills.
Some schools of speedreading claim that people skilled in their techniques can read at speed above 10000 wpm, by memorizing the book eidetically and recalling the page of interest when being examined. When we read from our memory there is no delay due to saccadic eye movement, so we can theoretically read very fast. I cannot do this myself, and I never encountered anyone who can do it with a book. I have seen people doing this trick with 1-pager, and it is very impressive. My uncle has eidetic memory, and he told me when he drives he can recall everybody and everything in the street several minutes after seeing them. This is something that he trained himself to do, and I do not really know how he succeeded to do this.
What I can do is remember several lines of text at the same time for a split second. This is enough to make saccades much smoother and remove eyestrain when reading above 1000wpm. To achieve this, I read the text in diagonal form, where the saccade of each line was significantly shifted relative to the saccade of a previous line. For 5 lines paragraph 3-columns saccade I can [usually] focus on the third word of the first line, the middle of the third line and the 3rd word before the end of the 5th line, this way I get 5 lines in 3 saccades prereading and then I can speedread the whole paragraph from my memory without saccades. The method is useful if you want to achieve 3000wpm with full preread-read-analyze cycle.
For our students we developed a specific exercise to build-up eidetic short–term memory. The training exercise to achieve this is very simple and we advertised throughout all of our courses. You see a screen with several letters for a very short period of time, and then you count the letters you have seen from your photographic memory. You can train this exercise for 10 minutes per day, and slowly your eidetic memory will improve.
We do not claim to teach you full photographic memory that lasts for hours, but we can provide you with limited eidetic memory training that you can use in your life. You do not need magic powers to do this, all you need is 10 minutes of practice per day.