Original Pin is a customizable, flat-pack camera that can be assembled to fit your personality. You can mix and match the different parts to create a one-of-a-kind camera that is both durable and functional. Along with its unique characteristics, the kit doubles as an educational jig-saw puzzle, breaking down the complex photographic concepts of pinhole technology into digestible content.
— SERENA CHU, PSFK

press



THE PROJECT


Production model of the Original Pin

Most photography classes start with the construction of pinhole cameras. Why, you ask? Well, the pinhole camera breaks down complex photographic concepts into their basic foundation: Light. How much to let in, and for how long?

Hand-constructing a camera that can take real photographs, using the simplest method possible, transforms these abstract photographic concepts into hands-on understanding; giving both beginners, and veterans, a valuable tool for learning, exploring and creating their art.

Why create a pinhole camera from a shoebox or paint can that requires special photographic paper and a darkroom? With the Original Pin you can simply build a quality camera that takes standard 35mm film.

To create your Original Pin, simply match like-shapes. Then, add a dab of glue and a small helping of friction to create the inner-workings of the camera body. To complete the look, you can add your own custom parts to create a beautiful, functional and sturdy camera that will last you a lifetime.


IN THE BEGINNING...


Before anything was cut, many drawings were made to validate the idea

Before anything was cut, many drawings were made to validate the idea

I have been modifying and building pinhole cameras since my first introduction to photography at age 17. in 2010, I had the fortune of moving to Seattle as the first wave of small makerspace communities started to grow. One particular space, Metrix, had a laser cutter, and they were experimenting with creating small tchotchkes. One of the pieces they had on display was a simple, finger-joint box. As soon as I saw this box, I had my "aha" moment. I loved the aesthetic, and as it turns out, I can turn any light-tight container into a camera. I immediately started drawing up plans and working with Metrix to cut some of the original pieces.


PROTOTYPING MAKES PERFECT


Prototype #4

Prototype #4

This project was my first introduction to the power of prototyping and user testing. With each iteration, I was able to simplify the design and resolve bugs. Over the course of two years, I managed to reduce the complexity of the camera from 100 individual parts down to 30. 

This phase also gave me a great understanding of people's reaction to using and seeing the camera. The response was overwhelming and I had a ton of great feedback that was folded back into the design process.


KICKSTARTING AN IDEA


To be honest this whole endeavor started as a personal engineering and design challenge. However, I have always known that pinhole cameras are a great way to teach the basics of photography. From my experience in the field, I knew that this solution was superior to the current market offerings, and that both novices and professionals appreciated the design and function of my camera. The next step was to get it in the hands of as many people as possible.

After two years of weekend-gineering and design effort, I turned to Kickstarter to bring my idea to the masses. I started by developing all of the requisite design and content, from videos and logos to rewards and price points.

As I came closer to pulling the trigger, I decided to hire a PR manager that would create all of the press-releases, manage social media accounts, and contact relevant press outlets. The result was tremendous. The project ended with hundreds of backers and a fully-funded idea that surpassed it's goal by 50%.


MOVING TO MARKET


Original Pin on location at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle, WA

Once I fulfilled my backer requirements, I moved the product to market. Original Pin has always been a bootstrapped project. My goal was to start with the local Seattle market, and expand slowly with retail sales and wholesale contracts. My first foray into sales began with local craft fairs, which allowed me to make connections with local retailers partners.

As of today, we have been featured in several Seattle-based publications, including City Arts, Seattle Met Magazine, and the Seattle Times. In addition, we have several retail partners, such as the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum at the Seattle Center.


NEXT STEPS


Presenting Original Pin at the Seattle Maker Faire

Presenting Original Pin at the Seattle Maker Faire

The next major goal for Original Pin is breaking into the education market. By simplifying the design and materials, I believe that we can offer a competitive product that will appeal to photography instructors. As a first step, I have been exposing Original Pin to the maker community through the Maker Faire circuit, and contacting educators to evaluate the product.