That Time We Made A Camera Out of A Pumpkin

Lessons Learned From Experimentation

“I wanted to do something special for Halloween and hit upon the idea of turning a pumpkin into a pinhole camera obscura. I hollowed out a pumpkin, spray painted it black and cut out a square for the pinhole lens. After several attempts of fixing light leaks and figuring out what the pinhole could see I created some images. The pumpkin pinhole didn’t produce the sharpest images but they were interesting. The pumpkin innards created some extra interest as it fell against the paper. I also learned that pumpkin cameras get moldy very quickly. They are a temporal art form.” – Jessica Tefft

This October Sawtooth Studio Director, Jessica Tefft took the staff on a journey. She decided to make a pumpkin pinhole camera for halloween! Here’s what we learned following her:

  1. You Can Make A Camera Out of Anything 
    • A pinhole camera is simple. At it’s most basic it’s a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. The idea of making a pumpkin pinhole began from a seed. We started noticing that people make interesting cameras out of all sorts of things. At Sawtooth alone, we’ve made wooden cameras (thanks to visiting artist Lou Krueger) and cameras out tin cans. But, if you do a quick search around the Internet you’ll see cameras made out sculptures, cars, full rooms, cereal boxes and your favorite squashes. Any box could be a camera if you have the time, creativity and often, access to a darkroom. Luckily, Jessie put ours to good use.
  2. Photography is Great for Experimentation
    • Some times the images were dark or filled with pumpkin goo other times the images were filled with light leaks, but  they happened. She took multiple pictures with a pumpkin! Creating your own camera allows for the simple joy of enjoying photography. Something we often associate with digital art becomes something you can make with your own hands. Pinhole images have an ephemeral dream like quality that are hard to create even in a time of photo filters. They feel handmade and joyful. Put simply: they just look cool.
  3. Making Something New Builds Connection
    • Jessie would come into the office in the kitchen with a new tool or object for the camera and it was the fun way of building community. She’d walked out of the office with a huge knife and come back the Black duck tape. Everyone in the office wanted to know how it turned it. It was a fun bit of light in our day. Seeing someone make something new inspires you to create yourself. And being a model for pumpkin camera is truly a unique experience that we highly recommend!

If you’d like to explore photography in new ways, check out our selection of upcoming photography classes! We are offering a pinhole photography class this winter!

If you’ve made any cameras recently let us know!