Some Assembly Required: Kelli Anderson

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

This Book Is a Camera in camera-form

Kelli Anderson, Brooklyn, NY

Taking the camera manual concept to a new level, Kelli Anderson’s project This Book Is a Camera blends the science of photography with the art of design, resulting in a pop-up book about photography that transforms into a functioning pinhole camera.

This Book Is a Camera in book form

Using only paper and some glue, Anderson spent three months creating prototypes of the pop-up book/camera before settling on a final design. The biggest challenge was to make the object both light-tight and collapsible, two properties that don’t always mesh.  

The book measures 9x7” and the camera uses a 0.3mm hole in black paper, rather than the more common aluminum, to yield the sharpest image possible. Since Anderson’s idea was to introduce photography to new audiences, the book comes with everything needed to make pinhole photographs including 4x5 photo paper and simple development chemistry of instant coffee, baking soda, and water. More sophisticated photographers with proper darkrooms can easily use 4x5 film and traditional chemistry.

While modern photographic technology has become more instantaneous, these advances have created many barriers from the press of a button to the resulting photograph, leaving gaps in the photographer’s knowledge of how light is translated into an image. By stripping away these barriers with an all-in-one basic camera and instruction manual, the pop-up camera simultaneously explains and demonstrates the photographic process, allowing its users to place value in resourcefulness and creativity over high tech equipment.

Photo made with This Book Is a Camera

View more of Anderson’s work on her website.

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at