Brendan Barry is known for his crazy custom cameras that he builds from, well, everything. As we’ve covered in the past, Barry has made cameras from everything, ranging from small garden sheds to massive skyscrapers.

Now, he’s back with his latest project, done in collaboration with Positive View Foundation, wherein he turned an electric barge on a canal in London into a giant, floating camera, complete with a built-in darkroom. Made with a group of young people as part of a commission from Positive View Foundation’s Youth Empowerment Program, the project started off by turning the main section of the barge into a light tight box that would serve as the inside of the camera.

This was achieved using scrap cardboard and the always-reliable gaffer tape. With the main area light tight, the next step was to cut a hole for a lens to be installed within.

Barry and the youth helping him then had a subject stand outside of the barge and used a board on wheels as the focal plane upon which the image would be captured. With the focal plane established, the team was ready to troll along the canal in search of areas to take photographs.

At various points, the team would stop and snap a photo at an interesting location. As you can expect, capturing a large image on a massive floating camera is no easy task. As Barry explains in the video, the rocking of the boat from passing watercraft meant snapping the long-exposure images was more challenging than your typical camera obscura, where the room typically isn’t moving much.

What helped Barry and the youth ensure they were getting the results they wanted was a darkroom that they built directly inside the main area of the boat. Within seconds of exposing the photographic paper, the team could get it into chemicals and start the development process to see whether the exposure and focus was right.

Towards the end of the video, the featured youth shared what the project and photography as a whole meant to them as a means of expression and curation. You can find out more information and support the Positive View Foundation on its website.

The film was shot and edited by Alex D. You can also find out more about The Electric Barge and Brendan Barry on their respective websites.


Image credits: Photos provided by Brendan Barry