I am from a busy town in New Jersey and it was easy to lose track of time. In the blink of an eye, I was standing on a yacht overlooking the Boston skyline with my friends on a college trip. I have poor quality photos of the water, the sunset, and the group, yet they are satisfying to me because of the memory they preserve. Looking back on my childhood, I remember the blurry and pixelated pictures my mom took on our iPad Air. I take new photos of those photos through my iPhone 11 to conserve those memories because I worry that—with my life fast-forwarding—I am forgetting to appreciate the small moments. I take photos of out-of-focus suns, morning light streaming through my windows, laughter, and flowers, not because they are important but because they have backstories that make me smile. I photograph memories not for others to like or dislike but for the sole purpose of looking back and appreciating them. My photos reflect the stories that I choose to tell. With my new level of photo-editing skills, I am able to nurture my personal narrative through shots taken with a simple phone camera in New Jersey, Boston, or wherever I end up next.
—Shakshi Patel, High School in the Community