The Found Polaroid Project: Creating Stories of the Past

There’s an old cliché, which states “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but what if one combines a picture with words, what would that say? Found Polaroids, created by photographer Kyler Zeleny and freelance writer Jenny Lugar, is a project that takes Polaroids that have unknown identities or contexts, and allows writers from across the globe to create a fictional story to accompany the image. Humans are natural storytellers, so when we see something with no history, we create one.

Polaroid #21 image source: Found Polaroids

Found Polaroids is immensely gratifying because of the vastness of the stories. Take for example Polaroid #21. A picture of a girl curled up by the side of the pool; writer Will Conway claims she is having a laughing fit from something an old best friend did, while writer Allison Williams states this girl just got her first period. Although both stories touch on adolescence they do so in a unique and very different way.

Polariod #8 image source: Found Polaroids

Some stories are heartbreaking and about loss such as #8 by Kellie Coppola, which discusses the everyday life of a dementia patient, or C.L. Vincent’s #87, which discusses the concept of a person being dead to someone even if they are still very much alive. However, other stories take a more comical note such as Peyton Incollingo’s #57, which talks about finding their friend naked in their living room the morning after a drunken evening out. Regardless of the story’s tone, one can see how unique each writer’s voice is. After seeing so many wonderful stories, this inspired me to write one myself. Here it is below:

Polaroid #99 Image Source: Found Polaroids

He knew those glasses looked ridiculous, but couldn’t tell her. They made her happy, and he couldn’t resist the way it made him feel. He never cared about anyone that way before, never felt this responsibility to ensure a person waking up beside him was better off. His entire life was built around never getting attached. He was a landscape and nature photographer, but his buddies made jokes that he was like James Bond, traveling the world with a new mission and lady everywhere he went.

Then he goes to Bali and he’s got a perfect view of the beach at sunset, but this woman and her painting easel are in the way, so he tries to persuade her to move, but she argues her art is just as important and she needs to finish before it gets dark. They keep arguing until the sun sets, and neither one wins. He feels bad, and she’s pretty, in a funny kind of way, so he offers to by her a drink. She tells him her name is Candice, and he says his is Hank. They talk about their work, and how images are the closest thing to a time machine, and he can’t understand why he’s so drawn to her. After a week he invites her to travel with him. All those things he usually finds as a turn off, such as cheap jewelry and a loud laugh, he doesn’t mind. He finds it endearing that she binge watches Betty Davis movies, and eats popcorn with peanut butter. He starts asking her where she would like to travel, and she suggests they see the Grand Canyon.

Candice buys these silly sunglasses at a gas station making jokes that she looks like Elton John meets an alien. As they’re driving through a suburban town, she sees a house she wants to paint, so he stops. On her way out of the car, she trips a little, and they laugh. He realizes right then he’s in love. He rarely takes pictures of people, but he wants this moment forever, the only time he fell in love.


Kyler and Jenny are interested in finding the people within these Polaroids. So if you do know these people, please contact them at or if you wish to submit your own story please send to: