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Giving new life to lost photographs with Found Polaroids

Mysterious histories in Found Polaroids newspaper by Kyler Zeleny. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Polaroid may have ceased production of its iconic film in 2008, but the stories behind the images it captured are still being told.

At least, that's the idea behind the Found Polaroids project from Canadian artist Kyler Zeleny. Initially, Zeleny hoped to unearth the true stories behind his 6,000-strong collection of Polaroids, but says he realised "the importance of stories is not always in their actual truth."

Last year, Zeleny opened interpretation of the images up to anyone with an imagination. His project invites people to submit 250 - 350 word flash prose pieces that tell the stories "not of who these people are but who they could have been." Now, hundreds of the Polaroids in his collection have been given new narratives.
Found Polaroids by Kyler Zeleny

Polaroid #73 and Polaroid #90 from Found Polaroids by Kyler Zeleny.

This summer, Zeleny hosted a flash fiction workshop to coincide with his In An Instant exhibition at Nuvango Gallery in Toronto. The workshop explored issues of nostalgia, object journeys and the interplay between digital and analogue creation. Using images from the Found Polaroids project, participants imagined a short story inspired by the photo.

Mysterious histories in Found Polaroids newspaper by Kyler Zeleny. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Found Polaroids digital tabloid newspaper by Kyler Zeleny.

The stories were collected in a 50-page digital tabloid newspaper – an "antidote to digital ubiquity" as Zeleny calls it.

"The Found Polaroids project is about physical images," he says. "As we ran these workshops we realised the importance of creating something that physical." The publication was given away to exhibition visitors for free.

Mysterious histories in Found Polaroids newspaper by Kyler Zeleny. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Found Polaroids digital tabloid newspaper by Kyler Zeleny.

The stories range from sweet ("We met on a boardwalk on a warm summer night") to surreal ("...and that is why today you see me here as the man in a glass box at the Experimental Eating Exhibition"). Each proving that, unlike the film itself, the power of these ephemeral snapshots has no expiration date.

Mysterious histories in Found Polaroids newspaper by Kyler Zeleny. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Found Polaroids digital tabloid newspaper by Kyler Zeleny.

Read the funny, strange and moving stories collected so far at Found Polaroids (or submit your own). And keep an eye out for familiar faces – Zeleny is still hoping to return as many Polaroids as he can to their original owners.

Mysterious histories in Found Polaroids newspaper by Kyler Zeleny. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Found Polaroids digital tabloid newspaper by Kyler Zeleny.

Learn more about our digital tabloid newspapers. Our most popular newspaper format, great for everything from weddings to portfolios to posters. Digital tabloids are easy to try out, with print runs starting at just one copy.

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