Some Assembly Required: Nicholas Williams

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.

  Loner , made with the "headcam"

Loner, made with the "headcam"

 Nicholas Williams, Ann Arbor, MI

Intimidated by the visibility of street photography, Nicholas Williams developed a camera to alleviate his apprehension of shooting on the street. “While thinking about overcoming the anxiety of raising one’s camera to catch a moment, I figured it would be unavoidable to make pictures by straight up wearing the camera on my face.” The resulting “headcam” looks like a mask and is modeled after a pinhole design and comprised of a matchbox, an aluminum can, a plastic notebook cover, and electrical tape.

While walking around town with a cardboard contraption strapped to one’s face might not seem to reduce the public's awareness of the photographer, in New York City Williams went largely unnoticed with passersby unaware that the strange looking device was a camera aimed at them.

The camera holds one roll of film that winds to an empty canister and is re-wound with a paperclip. In the sprocket holes Williams has placed a plastic binder clip that makes a clicking sound to indicate the advancement of the film. By opening his mouth, Williams triggers the shutter. The resulting photographs blend the dream-like aesthetic of pinhole and the immediacy of street photography. With their crinkled edges and etched emulsion, these photographs encapsulate the frenetic energy of life on the street in a refreshing manner.

 Headcam in use.

Headcam in use.

View more of Williams’ work on his website.

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at info@donttakepictures.com.