Polaroid and Magnum Photos Team Up for First Partnership

In this age when anyone with a smartphone can pretty much call themselves a photographer, Polaroid and Magnum Photos are encouraging the unheralded with a new initiative.

Through their first partnership, the photography specialists will launch an open call starting Monday. Sharpshooters will be able to vie for a chance to get some guidance from Magnum photographers Jim Goldberg, Enri Canaj and Newsha Tavakolian. The initiative will focus on storytelling and black-and-white photography. They will have a chance to win the Polaroid I-2 Instant Camera and to be able to glean some expertise from the trio of top-shelf talent via mentorships.

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Contenders have until Aug. 12 to submit their photography portfolios – whether that be digital, analogue or Polaroid photography — and an idea for an “empathy-inspired story” via Polaroid’s site. Ten winners will be announced on Aug. 26 and each will be given a Polaroid I-2 Instant Camera and film with a technical primer.

The three Magnum photographers have shown off their skills in Magnum’s “The Imperfectionists,” which highlights work shot by each using the Polaroid 1-2. Goldberg set up a pop-up studio for his “Augusta Community” series, which was shot a few years ago in Augusta, Ga. Having been committed to social practice throughout his career, Goldberg offered his subjects free prints for their time.

Enri Canaj
Enri Canaj focused on Albania.

Canaj’s “Albania” reflects the juxtaposition of bunkers from a bygone era against modernism in order to show the challenges that transplants from rural to urban areas are facing. And Tavakolian headed to Iran’s 5,603-meter-high Mount Damavand — two hours south of Tehran — to take photos of sheep herders, nomads, artists, firefighters and others. The end result is “Mount Damavand Community.”

A photo by Newsha Tavakolian.
A photo by Newsha Tavakolian.

As for the “empathy-inspired” edict — which is a buzzword of choice with marketers and advertisers — Polaroid’s global head of culture marketing, communications and social Anna Dobatkina said, “In today’s hyper-digitized world, it’s critical to preserve a core pillar of photography: human connection. We are looking for real-life storytellers and the stories that reflect the raw beauty and imperfection of life.”

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