Some Assembly Required: Sebnem Ugural

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

Photographs from 35mm pinhole camera.

Sebnem Ugural, London, UK

London-based photographer Sebnem Ugural is no novice when it comes to pinhole cameras. She thrives on the challenge of converting any and every type of object into a camera, from tents to boxes of all shapes and sizes. While large cameras can provide a lot of detail, Ugural found herself in need of a more portable camera. Repurposing the case from her smartphone, the most widely used portable camera there is, Ugural converted the small box into a 35mm pinhole camera.

With the box’s logos and graphics covered by electrical tape, the resulting pinhole camera bears little resemblance to the smartphone packaging we are used to seeing. Ugural repurposed an empty film canister’s head to wind the film and attach it to the camera’s body, which is spray-painted black to protect the film from light leaks. The pinhole itself is approximately 0.214mm and made from a thin piece of aluminum. It has a focal length of 25mm, which gives the photographs a slightly wide angle feel and an F stop of F/117. To create the stereo camera effect, Ugural makes two single exposures several feet apart from each other and prints the two frames together.

The camera’s small size made it an ideal companion for Ugural’s trip to Ibiza Island in April of 2015. Like a traditional 35mm camera, the exposure times are relatively short, allowing Ugural to make photographs in as little as 1 to 2 seconds in sunny weather and for as long (but still relatively brief) as 10 seconds on an overcast day. The small, lightweight homemade device brings together a variety of photographic technologies from the analogue pinhole, to smartphone camera of the digital age, to the 35mm film printed together like the stereo cameras of the early 20th century.

35mm pinhole camera made from a smartphone box.

View more of Ugural’s work her website.

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