French Duo Transforms Parisian Apartments into Camera Obscuras

Around 4 years ago, Romain Alvery and Antoine Levi, two cousins, made an overland trip emanating from Paris to Tokyo, indulging their shared passions for photography and videography while on the journey. While in a square hotel room in Pushkar, India one morning, they noticed moving colors and shadows reflected on the ceiling. Apparently, a tiny pinhole in the room’s shutters was responsible, allowing just enough light to transform their room into a large camera obscura.

camera obscura

Luck can sometimes be the catalyst for notable art, rather than deliberate intention. Such was the case that early morning in India, prompting Alvery and Levi to come–up with the series. Drawing inspiration from the work of Aberlado Morell, aims to capture through photography in addition to time–lapse videos the close relation between the exteriors and interiors of Paris apartments, by transforming their walls into reflections of the outside environments.

camera obscura paris

“The inner world of an apartment is important, because it shows off the more intimate relationship a person might have with his environment. But the outside is maybe more important because it’s the view from the window they see every day. It’s where the rest of us are breathing,” explained Levi. To create the series, Alvery and Levi follow similar camera obscura principles that have been in place since ancient times.

paris camera obscura

Levis recently spoke of their project, saying,

“What we’re trying to make is a visual cartography. We’d like to show people the architectural diversity, not just inside, but outside of the apartments and flats in which Parisians live.”

camera obscura parisian

Utilizing camera obscuras, Alvery and Levi’s principal design goal was identifying apartments that looked good for camera obscuras. The next challenge was getting them dark enough and strategically positioning a hole to the outside so the light would enter the room in an aesthetically pleasing way. “The Camera Obscura is a really interesting technique that has existed since ancient times, yet can still create an amazing experience today,” said Levi. “It’s a real media that can be explored in interesting ways.”


See Alvery and Levi’s here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.