Sep 22, 2015

Behind The Lens: Kyler Zeleny

kyler zeleny polaroid

Kyler Zeleny, Photographer, Visual Sociologist, Canada.

Kyler Zeleny is a Canadian visual sociologist. He is interested in Found Images from family albums, conscious/unconscious construction of ‘deviant cultures’, alternative culture movements, and how this defines and influences social policies. His personal interests in photography, which is reflective of his rural upbringing relates to open space, landscape portraiture, and the archeology of rural decay. (source:

kyler zeleny polaroid
Polaroid #99

Journal: Hi Kyler! Besides the fact that you collect Polaroid pictures we’ve noticed that you’re really into an oldschool vibe of photography. Where did this come from?

Kyler: Looking at some of my parents old family albums. We had about thirty and it was always fun to revisit memories or to create new ones through images I do not remember being a part of (either i’d forgotten or was too young to remember).

Journal: Very interesting.. So I guess it’s kind of nostalgic for you. We’ve seen your Polaroid collection. Why did you start collecting other people’s photos?

Kyler: I was interested in trying to interrogate whose these people were and why had someone discarded their images, where were they now and what had they done, these questions interested me.

kyler zeleny polaroid
Polaroid #118

Journal: I think a lot of people, like me, are wondering where you find all these interesting polaroid photographs?

Kyler: Sadly, eBay.

Journal: eBay!? For real..?

Kyler: For every one you collect at a flea market you can collect hundred online.

Journal: I see… Do you have a favourite Polaroid photo in your collection?

Kyler: I have a lot of favourites but my ultimate favourite is #95 which can be found on our website.

kyler zeleny polaroid
Polaroid #95

Journal: Something else.. We see more and more photographers using old tools like for instance analog camera’s. What are your thoughts on this transition?

Kyler: I still use film cameras. It helps me to slow down my process and it allows me to meditate on each image I take. I think it is also a great thing to see it’s revival. Digital cameras are great tools for creating and I use them often as “B-roll cameras” or for doing paid work

There is definitely something magical about Analog and in particular the Polaroid, that I think people should grow up understanding and interacting with.

Journal: I see.. That makes sense!

Kyler: We live in a time of millennial where these kids growing up have had no physical contact with a pre-internet world, VCRs or film cameras and that’s interesting as it creates a generational gap in a way. It’s a great thing that we’ve gotten rid of VCR’s and some other outdated technologies (in my opinion), but there is still something magical about analog and Polaroids. Actual chemicals and not just digital sensors!

kyler zeleny polaroidPolaroid #115

[ef-heading size=”h5″]”There is definitely somthing magical about analog and in particular the Polaroid, that I think people should grow up understanding and interacting with.”[/ef-heading]

kyler zeleny polaroid
Polaroid #105

Journal: Let’s talk about inspirations. Do you think your work is influenced or inspired by others?

Kyler: I like to think my work is heavily influenced by the work of others.
My project Out West is influenced by Robert Adams and Stephen Shore. Speaking about my Found Polaroid project, that has been influenced mainly by Erik Kessels, the great Amsterdam-based creative. I’ve met him and i’ve purchased some of the books he’s produced. His ideas on found photography and vernacular photography very much influence the project.

Journal: That’s so awesome. We love your Polaroids, we’ll definitely check out Erik Kessels.
Lastly, Is there any project you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

Kyler: I like Out West the most, mainly because it made it to book form and it resonates with me as something I produced to reflect my understanding of Western Canada, where I grew up. My next project (still untitled) builds upon questions that Out West didn’t answer. I’m hoping that It’ll be my best work yet.

I shot 70 rolls of 120mm film over three weeks and I’m currently scanning.
I’m so excited to see how it all looks.

Author: Fares Masharawi

Want to see more of the person behind this lens?
Visit his website: