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What’s The Story Behind These Found Polaroids?

By Hanssie on August 20th 2015

Shake it like a Polaroid picture…

Polaroids are an iconic part of pop culture history. If you’re a fellow Gen X’er, you’d likely remember the whiz of a Polaroid camera as the square image slid out of the machine, waiting what seemed like an eternity for the film to develop, as you gently shook it to help the process along. Like Tamagotchi’s and Garbage Pail Kids, the Polaroid camera will always have a special place in my nostalgic heart.



Canadian visual sociologist Kyler Zeleny is also a fan of Polaroids and over the last few years has collected over 6000 random Polaroid pictures which he has carefully curated into his project, Found Polaroids. Zeleny’s hope is to find the owners of the photographs and hear their stories behind the images. And even if the owners are never found, the project has another facet.  Zeleny writes:

Who were these people, what did they do, and more importantly where did they go? Their context, and therefore, their meaning has been forever lost. It was with this realization in mind that the concept moved from focusing on what can be learned from found Polaroid images to how can we now interpret them.

Hoping to build a community of photographers, writers, and artists in this collaboration, viewers can choose a Polaroid and submit a flash fictional story inspired by the image. The stories will be published on the site, various social media channels, and one day, into a book and exhibition.

We may never know where this cowboy with a yellow, plastic sword, and a beer was going and how his sister lost this memento, but if you recognize the person, or it sparks your creative writing juices, be sure to contact Found Polaroids.


To see more images or submit a story, be sure to check out the Found Polaroids website here.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dustin Baugh

    You shouldn’t shake your Polaroids. It can cause bluring of the image.
    Or go the other way and deliberately rub and “paint” them for an awesome art effect.

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