Brendan Barry is a large-format photographer and educator based in the UK who has a knack for turning common objects into cameras. Watermelons, pineapples, mannequins, a caravan, and abandoned structures are just a few of the things that he has transformed into tools to make pictures. A new short-doc from ILFORD PHOTO explores how he builds and uses these extraordinary cameras.

“I always loved making things when I was a kid, I’d take apart toys and rebuild them, butcher them, create new ones,” he says in the video. “I think that just fed into my photography process … I realized that you can pretty much make a camera out of anything.”

While his food cameras are whimsical, the larger scale camera obscuras that he has created, like the caravan camera, double as a teaching tool.

trailer painted like a camera
Brendan Barry’s camera caravan is just one of the large scale camera obscuras that he has built from scratch. Exploredinary

“It’s sometimes quite tricky to explain to students how the mechanics of a camera conceptually,” he says.

Barry says that in his experience, bringing people inside the dark large cameras is a really useful way to help people understand concepts like shutter speed and aperture, but it’s also a unique experience.

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“The reaction when people come inside, that is one of the things that is most rewarding for me,” he says. “I’ll open up the lens and the light pours through … and the image from outside is projected through, that reaction, if you could bottle that, I just think its something really special.”

We know we certainly feel inspired to go out and shoot after watching Barry at work. Check out the full video above.