I didn’t care much for photography throughout most of college. It wasn’t until early senior year that I picked up my first camera, and until then, all the photos I had taken were just smartphone shots of ordinary life, capturing the places I went, the people I cared about, and my professors’ illegible blackboard scribbles. Photos back then didn’t hold much meaning to me - I’d take them and look back once or twice but I never cared enough to copy them from my phone onto a backup location.​​​​​​​
In September 2020, over two years after I had graduated, my phone’s memory card finally gave out. Photography today is a much bigger part of my life than it was back then, so when I realized something was wrong I immediately took the card to a local repair shop to try and save the images that were on it. One option led to another over the course of several weeks, until eventually I shipped the card out to a data recovery cleanroom in a last-ditch effort to salvage something.​​​​​​​
The recovery was a partial success - data was pulled off the card, but as I browsed through the recovered photos and videos it was evident that the majority of them were corrupted beyond repair. Some of the images were only partially damaged and still somewhat usable; few were in their original shape.​​​​​​​
But in the same way a faint smell or sound can trigger a distant memory, the fragmented photos that remained were enough for me to cobble together portions of my life at UCLA, however brief and disparate they may be. Lost and Found is that incomplete story, and a reminder of the value of memories so easily overlooked.