Pinhole cameras

'How to make a pinhole camera'; a new workshop at the L'Oréal Young Scientist Centre at the Royal Institution.


Take authentic vintage-style photos with a camera you can make yourself. In a world saturated with selfies and instant effects layered over endless phone photos, take a step back and experience the science of the spiritual home of photography.

To make this homemade DIY pinhole camera, you’ll need the following items:

  • Stiff black card
  • Paper templates [Download link]
  • Glue and black tape
  • Scissors, craft knife and metal ruler
  • Aluminium can
  • Needle or pin
  • Cork and a pair of pliers
  • Fine emery or sandpaper
  • Velcro strips

Cut the template out of the black card and fold it into shape, and cut a small space for the pinhole shutter. The pinhole itself is made from a small strip from a drinks can. Poke a hole with your needle, and then slot this into a shutter made of black card. You can attach a removable lid on your box with some strips of Velcro, and fix the shutter in place with glue. With the photographic film safely in the sealed box, you’re ready to take photos. 

Making pinhole cameras is an excellent educational activity to do at school or at home. It can introduce children to the art and science of analogue photography, and also help instil a deeper understanding of the digital technology so prevalent today. 

This film was created as part of a workshop  for the L'Oréal Young Scientist Centre at the Royal Institution in March 2015, generously supported by L'Oréal.

DIY developing

Once you've made your camera and taken some photographs, you can try developing the images using a solution made of household ingredients. Download the step-by-step instructions here.