How to Look at a Precious Memory

© Copyright 2021 Lydia Le, Ryerson University.

The photographs we take for ourselves are snapshots of memories we hold dear. They’re remnants of what we wish to preserve into our minds. They are precious, and we are afraid to lose them. Time is constantly drifting forward, and there is no way to go back to these snapshots in our lives, which is why these memories are so precious. These memories in which we feel the need to laminate into a physical form, are attempts to evoke sentiments and remembrance of a happy moment. It is one’s wish to “go back”, to feel, to be with, and live in that moment again. It is proof that that moment existed. It is proof that although things are different now in the present, the happiness and love in that photo existed and thrived. It is proof of time. It is proof of how far we’ve come. It is proof of “us”.


The shiny surface of the photograph despite its scratches, bare witnesses to the owner’s hope and attempts to keep the small artifact and the memory itself safe, despite the years and flow of time. The edges of the photograph being ever so slightly frayed contributes to its careful safekeeping so that it can hold on for as long as possible. And that is because photographs, just like memories, may not last forever. Photographs can be lost, ruined, or thrown out. And memories, if not actively remembered, can also be lost, ruined, or thrown out. Nothing is forever. If someone or something we hold dear is lost, at least we’ll have a photograph. But if that photograph is lost, at least we’ll have our memories of it, right? But what if we lose those memories too? What will be left?




But despite this, we continue to take photos; we continue to preserve these photos just as we try to remember these precious moments. For what reason? These seemingly raw photographs that may not be conventionally artistically beautiful, why do we still take them if one day we are to possibly lose it anyway? The blurry photograph with unfamiliar yet familiar faces, with its weirdly high saturation, with its odd composition, the messy floor, the way it’s tilted towards one side, why is this photo despite everything so beautiful and cherished?


It is because of love.


Despite not being able to relive the moment again, despite the fear of losing it, it is respect for the love that was in that memory. This is why we still continue to love and create newer memories, so as to hold them, dear.

A photograph of a group of happy friends taken on New Years Eve in 2019
Lydia, Le. “A Photograph of a Precious Memory”, December 31, 2019. Photograph. ©Lydia Le.


  • Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.