“There was no other image in the world that was more quickly in hand, on the table, in the album than a Polaroid… [e]very Polaroid was instantly available – as an original, a memory made manifest, a past made present.” (Heine 2004:9)
Found Polaroids is project that was started in 2011 and has grown to a personal archival collection of over 6000 Polaroid images. The concept behind the project is to breathe new life into these long-forgotten images by asking creative minds to write stories about them. The project simply asks for 250-350 word flash-fiction submissions; not of who these people are but who they could have been. The project has since become a hub of collaboration with photographers, writers and academics that advocate for the cultural importance of material photography and found photography. Much of this exchange and collaboration has come about through digital pathways and is part of the material turn facilitated by online exchanges.
What makes this collection so unique is that most are entirely candid and were captured by someone who had a personal relationship with the subjects of the picture. In that sense, each comes coupled with a story that can really only be told by those in front of or behind the camera – but these stories have been lost. Initially, we were fixated on knowing the true stories, and then slowly it dawned on us that the importance of stories is not always in their actual truth, but rather in the truth that is reflected in our own lives within these stories. A really great story is simply one that holds a mirror up to our own reality.