Some Assembly Required: Arvid Larsson

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

Photo printed onto receipt paper.

Arvid Larsson, Linköping, Sweden

When looking to purchase a Polaroid camera, Swedish photographer Arvid Larsson was unpleasantly surprised by the expensive film that he would need for his instant photographs. While digital prints made more financial sense, it was the immediacy of the prints that captured Larsson’s interest. For a cheaper and fun alternative to the Polaroid film, Larsson dreamed up a way to utilize the kind of thermal printer used to print receipts. Though he knew that using standard office materials would lower his printing costs, his calculations proved that the final cost would be just $0.001 USD per print. Without a summer job and full of enthusiasm, Larsson turned his idea into reality.

The camera is made from a Raspberry Pi computer camera connected to a run-of-the-mill Mini loT thermal receipt printer, and is powered by a long-lasting USB battery pack. The default lens is 35mm, but Larsson has found ways to attach external lenses that he purchased from eBay. To make the various technological components portable, Larsson’s artist friend Anna Kristensson designed and 3D-printed a case in which to house them.

The resulting photographs are slightly grainy, small, black and white prints that have an impressive amount of detail and tonality given the cheap receipt paper that they are printed on. While these photographs might not be “exhibition quality” by some standards, these inexpensive, instant prints are as quick and fun to make as Larsson wanted, with the added benefit of having been made from scratch.

Thermal printer camera.

View more of Larsson’s work on his Instagram.

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