Remember when you had to go buy a disposable camera and get your photos developed by a stranger? Well, the people who used to do that developing haven’t forgotten. Probably because they saw so many weird and crazy photos.
This piece is based on an AskReddit thread. Link on the last page.
1. Well done to whoever took the picture!
I used to work in a Target photo lab. There were a lot of people with disposable cameras from parties where people appeared in various forms of undress. Once, a hunter brought in pictures of a hunting trip and subsequent butchering of a deer.
My personal favorite was a picture from a camping trip. These campers had built a wooden forest toilet. Imagine an outhouse in the middle of a beautiful forest but without any walls. The picture was just this guy sitting on the toilet completely unaware of the photographer. He was totally at peace. It was beautiful.
2. Yeah…. sorry, that’s not how those work…
A guy comes in saying he wants to pick up his photos, so as usual we take his name and go to the drawer to look for them.
“Hmm, nothing there by that name” I say, “Perhaps another name?”
“No” he says, so I asked when he brought the film in to be developed.
“It was a disposable camera” says the guy. I say, “okay, so when did you bring in the camera to be developed?”
“IT WAS A DISPOSABLE CAMERA” he says.
After a bit of toing and froing, turns out he took the term “disposable camera” literally, so threw it in the bin right after using it. When I asked him how he expected the photos to get to us from the bin, he said “I dunno, satellites or something?”
3. Sometimes you have to call the cops…
When I was about 16-17 I worked for CVS as a photo tech. I once had a roll that was a series of trophy pictures of naked women laying all in the same bed. The problem is I knew some of them were definitely under 18 as I went to high school with them.
So Itold my manager she needed to take a look at this and she said when theguy came in that she wanted to talk to him. I called him, told him hisrolls were all set and when he came in she had cops waiting for him.
4. Sounds like a crazy time…
I develop film right now. We got my favorite thing recently.
Sowhen you look through a roll, you get some idea of a story. We got oneroll recently. Paris vacation, shots of the Eiffel Tower, and so on.Then guy snorting cocaine in his hotel room, then 3 shots later, it’shim in his underwear, in that same hotel room, holding a goat’s head.The flash was on too, so the goat’s eyes are glowing. No context,nothing. I love it.
5. Nicely done, dude…
I made some poor soul develop pics of me posed as Rose from The Titanic. Fully nude, jewelry and all.
I’m a dude.
6. Even prisoners need their photos.
Use to develop film from a prison. They’d give the inmates disposablecameras for some reason. I think they were instructed to take picturesof their friends so the inmates would reveal who’s in what gang, idk.Any-who, between pictures of dudes making gang signs and posing ingroups there would be pictures of finger-paintings, which I thought waskind of sweet.
7. Talk about awkward holidays…
Iworked at a retail store that you could pick up your packs of photosfrom a large bin. Occasionally there would be a torn pack and a couplephotos would fall out between the inventory truck and the customerpickup bin.
Onesuch time, it was the photo index card that I found on the ground.Picked it up and looked at it. Showed a sequence of pictures: somegrandma’s birthday party, kids playing, the (presumably) mom naked, themom and dude having sex, random family gathering and portraits, andthen a Thanksgiving.
8. This one’s out of this world…
Back in high school I worked at a photo lab. I come in one day, grab a roll, and start doing my thing just like I did every day. The first roll I grabbed had the most convincing UFO pictures I had ever seen.
Seriously.These photos looked real. There were even 2 or 3 with what appeared tobe an Alien in a field, again, like nothing I’ve ever seen. No Sci-fican compete with what I saw in those few pictures.
Not 5 minutes later a man walks in asking for the photos I just developed. I hand them to him and he leans in real serious and asks me, “Did ya look at em?” I jokingly said, “Sir, I don’t have time to look at half the pictures we develop.” Then he paid me and left.
9. Okay, well that’s just terrifying…
So my Aunt has a picture of her and her kids in front of their farmhouse. Unfortunately, she accidentally super-imposed the picture of hermother-in-law in her funeral casket so she was hovering in the skyabove her grandchildren. My cousin called it “Grandma Levitating,” andmy Aunt had it in her house for years.
10. How does this even happen?
Neverworked with physical film other than to box it up to ship to Fujifilm,but a good part of my job right now is printing people’s photo orders.Most of it is pretty boring and typical…occasional sexy selfies orthe guy with the BBW fetish.
Andthen there was the time a few weeks ago I printed a picture of a guylaying in the middle of the street, head blown off and brains strewneverywhere.
The kicker to me was that it was mixed in with otherinnocent pictures of kids and scenery…and then, suddenly, brains.
11. Well, I mean that would be tough… RIGHT???!!!
The best one was the dude who decided to take a picture of his penis ina hot dog bun (no, that is not an innuendo). He did not fill the bunout.
12. Well now he’ll have the memories forever!
Had a guy drop off a roll of film that he said he found and had no idea what was on it. That’s not exactly encouraging. I knew I had to take a look at this one.
Developed it and it was almost like a frame-by-frame of a couch in themiddle of a junkyard with two guys pouring gasoline on it and lightingit on fire. When he came to pick it up he was baffled, because he wasone of the guys in the photo but had no recollection of that day.
13. Yeah I can see how that would be strange…
I work in a lab now. We have a guy who goes to places like Guatemala,following the death squads around, amazing photos, and that’s like 75%of his rolls. The other 25% is kids playing soccer in the streetsthere. Equally amazing shots, great photographer, just kinda weird togo from scanning random vacation shots to pools of blood on the groundand then kids playing.
14. Yeah maybe take a look through before getting that developed…
I worked on a photo desk in a supermarket for 3 years. The craziest oneI ever had was when a guy asked asked to print off his wedding picturesfrom his phone. He didn’t realize he’d selected everything on there tobe printed, and ended up with a bunch of printouts of him getting it onwith another guy just before the wedding.
15. I mean of course they did…
When I was in the Navy I had a disposable camera, now submariners arecrazy, so I left the camera in the sonar shack. Well when we pulledinto port I sent the camera off to my wife to develop. She told me thatthey wouldn’t develop all the pictures, my shipmates had taken a bunchof pictures of their junk.
16. People keep everything in there.
Back in the early 90s our grocery store developed film. One pic made nosense in the negative, but when printed produced a point of view shotof a guy having sex with a handbag. You could see all the miscellaneouspurse contents wrapped around his junk.
17. It really does make you wonder.
I used to be a tech in a one hour photo lab, back when we still processed the film in the store.
Some years back I had a customer bring in a couple of rolls of film and make me promise to delete them from our machine’s archives when they were done.
Theimages were from Sept. 11, 2001. This guy was there and took picturesof the towers as they burned, but waited nearly a decade to get themdeveloped. So I was the first and likely one of the few people who willever see those particular photos of that day. True to my word I nevershared them with anyone (yes, we do share crazy pictures with ourcoworkers), but I still remember them.
Makesyou wonder how many photos like that exist in the world. Unfortunatelyhe’d waited too long to develop them, so some of the pictures werelost, as negatives are sensitive and can easily be damaged over timedue to x-ray, heat, moisture, or light exposure.
18. Wow that’s pretty saucy.
Ihaven’t personally experienced anything weird (other than seeing about1/3 of a NSFW in one pic), my lab manager has told me though that he’sseen some weird shit in his day.
Onetime he had a woman develop some photos, which included shots of her inlingerie. After the photos were developed and handed to her, the womanasks my manager, in a kind of embarrassed voice, “did you see any ofthe photos?” After saying he did, she leaned in a little close andwhispered “…did you like them?”
19. Yeah, call the cops on that one.
We had a client who always brought rolls of what looked like mediocrequality nude model pics. Not the girls, but the photographic quality.They were on a basic white background. They were the formulaic poses,and the girls didn’t look particularly stoked to be there.
One day, hebrings three rolls in and we get to developing. It’s myself and myfriend in the shop at the time and I was on the printer. The threerolls were of two women, a bunch of individual pics, and some together.Their demeanor seemed to go downhill as their state of undressincreased; smiling to sad to almost blank.
I got a bad feeling andshowed my friend. She said she’d developed some the others the previousday that looked off too. Luckily he hadn’t picked them up when hedropped these off. The girls looked drugged. We immediately called thecops (it was a one hour job.) Luckily, they got there before he did.
Our boss was pissed that we breached client confidentiality. When thearticle came out three days later that he’d drug girls, photographthem, and then sexually molest them (including some who were 15 and16,) I felt vindicated. And guilty that I hadn’t paid more attentionbefore.
20. Wow, what a piece of history.
Iworked at a camera store in my high schools and college days, and wehad a photo lab in the back… It was a college town and so there wereplenty of photos of young adults exploring their sexuality, etc. Inever saw anything that I considered inappropriate. We did have acardboard cover for the machine output hopper so that people wouldn’tsee any photos of nudity and get upset.
However,the most memorable images I remember printing were from 1989, from theTienanmen Square riots. You know, the man holding up the line of tanks(The Tank Man)? And the 200+ people who were killed? It was a big dealin world at that time, and especially in college towns for a fewreasons.
First,the protesters were mostly college-aged Chinese. Second, there were alot of Chinese grad students on campuses in the US, and they feltdeeply impacted by this. Many knew people protesting in China.
Wehad students coming into the store with photos they took off the TVscreen so they could reproduce them in the hundreds to send back toChina to circumvent the regime’s oppressive control of the media.
I’ll never forget those events, and the students desire to do their part, even through they were 1/2 the world away.
21. What a creep…
There was onesuper sleazy guy who used to come in and print photos on the instantkiosks. Most of the pictures he printed were girls of questionablelegality, posing but not nude. He claimed to be a photographer, but hewas gross and gave off a really creepy vibe. I showed my manager a fewof the pictures he happened to leave behind one day and got him bannedfrom our photo lab, but there was nothing else we could do about it.
Byand large though, most photos weren’t all that memorable. 99% of peoplesuck at taking pictures. My least favorites were those disposablecameras people would leave on the tables at wedding receptions.
Guaranteed I’d spend an entire night developing 30 rolls of absolutegarbo pictures, so boring. Those and underwater disposables, totalwaste of money, but at least they were fun to pop open. I used to seehow far I could get the little plastic shutter to launch across the lab.
22. Okay I guess that’s one way to react…
I used to shoot a lot of film when I was in college. There was a community studio and photo lab.
An acquaintance of mine was in the next studio over and had a hot model. They closed the partition, which is very common, and shot away.
I saw the guy the next day and asked how his shoot went. Handed me a wonderful artistic black&white print of a vagina. Perfect lighting, perfect printing.
I still have it somewhere.
23. Well, what a coincidence!
I have an old college buddy several states away that used to work for Walmart and develop pictures there. He told me of two stories.
The first being about a guy that had a roll developed when he visited the Sturgis Motorcycle rally. Going through and there’s typical stuff: bikes, chicks, bars. Then all of a sudden the rest of the roll is just this dude (the camera’s owner) high-fiving an entire biker gang. Apparently one of the bikers picked up the camera and started taking photos.
The second was a women who was developing pictures of me. Remember, this is states away, so my friend, upon recognizing me in the pictures, got worried. All these shots of me just standing around talking. He finally mustered up the courage to ask her about the photos, and she told him about a great tour she had in the Black Hills and her lovely tour guide (which was me). He was less worried after that. I was pretty blown away by the coincidence, however.
24. That actually sounds pretty fun…
I worked at a pharmacy on a major collage campus for a couple of years, and I saw plenty of strange stuff. When film got brought to us, or digital orders came in, you gave them a quick scan through for banned pictures, which only came up once.
I saw a fair share of pictures of people who were drunk, which while funny the first time you see it, after a while it got old.
I saw hazing pictures from a fraternity where pledges had plungers strapped to their heads and the were fencing each other with them.
25. I bet he was…
I worked in a film lab for all of 2 months. The weirdest roll I ever got was of this old couple’s poop fetish.
The husband took close up pictures of his wife crapping on the lawn and it was all very vivid. He was actually a pretty good photographer, though.).
26. That’s really too bad… 🙁
My mother once developed photos for the police and they contained pictures of a man who hanged himself.
By the time the photos had been taken, he’d been there for a few days. She hadn’t been warned about it ahead of time.
The images stuck with her for years.
27. Good for business…
Worked at a grocery shop developing photos in the early 2000’s. Developed a roll which had a bunch of pics of a MASSIVE grow op.
When the older lady came in to collect I asked her about her hedge clipping business, she didn’t realize her son had taken some of the photos. I told it was cool, I was a smoker too, she gave me her number and I ended up becoming a customer of hers!
28. Not so awkward for her, apparently…
I work at a store (no details) that has a photo development section. A lady came asking for her photos and I couldn’t find them anywhere. So I check in the system and see her name so I decide to reprint them.
In order to print them I need to open a page on the computer that showed all of her pictures, and when I looked it was all naked pictures. This lady was getting naked pictures of herself printed out at a store where some employee will have to see them.
After I printed them out, she smiled and winked and walked away. Incredibly awkward.
29. Wow, what a find…
I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, and my Mom used to get photos developed at the WalMart or CVS or whatever, nowhere special.
I remember distinctly that a week or two after 9/11, we got a package of our photos returned — interspersed within pictures of my grandparents, brothers, toddler me in my underwear, and other standard fare, there was an eyewitness photograph from the Pentagon immediately after it was hit.
I have no idea whether or not my parents still have the photo.
Just one photo, sitting within out normal family stuff. Maybe a great metaphor for the mental impact of 9/11 on the American psyche yadda yadda yadda.
30. Awwww cute!
I used to work at a store that had a photo department, I was 16. While at a party one night I took my gf on the back porch to hang out. Someone at the party held a camera around the corner of the house and snapped a pic.
Didn’t really bother either of us at the time but doesn’t then she brought it in while I’m working and ask for the pictures back in an hour.
Luckily the lady working in that department was cool so I told what was about to come out of the printer. She made me a couple copies of a perfect side shot of me with my girlfriend.
31. That’s not a job for your kid!
I used to work on a cruise ship developing film. Some guy would get films sent from his wife that we would develop.
Some of them were pretty raunchy. We assumed she used a timer to take these. But in one set of shots there was a mirror in the background. We could see that the pictures were actually being taken by their 11 or 12-year-old son.