One question most street photographers have pondered is whether or not they should take that photo of a passing stranger. Nicholas Williams, a photographer and multimedia artist from Allen Park, MI, has asked himself that very question, and came up with a unique answer.
“As a street photographer it can be kind of intimidating bringing the camera up to your face to make a picture, so I thought I‘d put the camera on my face,” he says. Using a matchbox, a tin can and some cheap twine, Williams constructed a jaw-operated pinhole camera that exposes an image by simply opening his mouth.
Last July, the photographer visited New York City to try his homemade camera in a brand-new environment. “The camera sort of acted as a mask,” Williams tells TIME, “people don’t pay attention to you in New York City if you’re doing something strange, most people didn’t even seem to notice me at all.”
Back in Ann Arbor, MI, where Williams is a student at the University of Michigan, people’s reactions were different. “I stood over a girl and attempted to make a test photograph, but she ran off leaving her books and bag behind,” he says. When Williams later approached her, she told him she actually believed that the camera attached to his face was a bomb.
After he developed and scanned the film, Williams printed his work out on computer paper and began collaging. He scratched in a few words or phrases that were triggered from emotions brought up by looking at the images
This summer, the jaw-operated pinhole camera will be back on Williams’ face as he plans to travel to Ireland and use it again, this time to make color photographs.