Some Assembly Required: Lisa McCarty

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

Flower Arrangement (11:45 - 11:58am). Photo made with Quadocular Camera

Lisa McCarty, Durham, NC

We often think of cameras as machines that record what our eyes see. Photographer Lisa McCarty wanted to know what qualities of light, variations of color, and other visual information could be rendered and registered on film simply by modifying the machine used to record it. To satisfy her curiosity she constructed the Quadocular Camera using an archival print storage box, a Kodak sheet film box, four pieces of aluminum foil from a LaCroix can, and plenty of gaffers tape—materials generally used to create and store photographs.

After many hours of research about the invention of photography and various camera inventors, the actual construction of the Quadocular Camera took about one hour. The camera is 7.5 inches wide, 4.5 inches deep, and 5.25 inches tall. It accommodates a 4x5 film holder for sheet film or paper negatives and is not outfitted for a lens, instead McCarty made four apertures with pieces of aluminum and sewing needles of varying sizes. The lens-less construction is a crucial element to McCarty’s lumen photographs. The imperfections in the images, double exposures, and color shifts provide answers to McCarty’s questions about the photographic medium and whether it has been perfected or just streamlined, and that maybe there are still discoveries to be made in photography.

Quadocular Camera

View more of the McCartys’ work on her website.

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