How to Make a Camera Out of a Coconut

There are a million different things that you can do with a coconut shell and a thousand different things they could represent. But by any stretch of imagination did you ever think that a coconut shell could be used for photography? Well, that’s exactly what Banff Centre Artist in Residence Kotama Bouabane does. He uses empty coconut shells for making photographs:

The process didn’t start straight away:

“It started off by making photograms, faces out of the coconuts. I didn’t know that it would be funny at the same time.”


Photograms created by Bouabane using his Coconut Camera

To make photos using a coconut, Bouabane punched a hole through where the mouth of the coconut would be. He drained it, cut the shell in half, cleaned the inside, dried it and that’s how the body of the ‘camera’ was readied.

A photographic paper was placed between the shells to make the exposure. For the shutter, he put a piece of black tape over the mouth of the camera. He removed the tape when making an exposure.

Bouabane's coconut camera

Bouabane’s Coconut Camera in Action

In the darkroom Bouabane processes the paper and uses coconut water in it. Evidently, in doing so, he mixes the actual object with the rest of the chemistry. Thus the base material forms a part of the entire image-making process from start to finish.

“It’s something that you don’t really have a lot of control over in terms of clarity and focus and it’s a lot of experimentation. So, the images behind me are the ones that I thought were more successful in terms of finding the bridge between the mood and the tone of all of the images together.”

Coconut camera

Bouabane with some of his best captures with the Coconut Camera

But that’s not all. Bouabane has even developed a way to take selfies with his creation.

how to make a camera from a coconut shell

Bouabane with his Coconut Camera on a Selfie-Stick

When other tourists use actual cameras mounted at the end of a selfie stick, Bouabane is seen with one of his creations taking a selfie. It has to be said that it is quite a head-turner wherever he chooses to bring it out.

“I think there’s a lot of humor in the work that I do, as well, and I think that building a selfie-stick and mounting a coconut onto the end of it and taking it to tourist destinations is an absurd gesture to do. But I also think that it comments on how we are obsessed with place and how we use objects, and how we photograph in this day and age.”

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