Photographers Divulge The Strangest Images They've Developed For People
Photographers Divulge The Strangest Images They've Developed For People
Back in the day, photographs had to be developed in labs, which means the people developing them got to see the images. And if you think smartphones and the internet gave birth to the weird and the naked, think again. Kids today will also never know the smell of film stores, which, if you remember, was amazing.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Do people think developers don't look at their pictures?
My best friend worked in the photo lab of a supermarket we both worked at during high school.
A police officer mixed up two rolls of film he had - one being his family vacation photos and the other being photos from work (gunshot suicide victim). That messed her up a bit.
Just the way the Lordt intended.
I developed church directory photos. So many old guys standing behind their wives holding the wife's chest. Not even kidding.
Always, always look at the background in pictures.
Posted this before so it may sound familiar. My dad isn't a career photographer but he's super into is as a hobby. He has the fancy, bulky camera with the expensive lenses and lights. He has basically professional grade equipment as a hobbyist. One of his co-workers was getting married and asked my dad to be a photographer along with a professional one they had hired. He went, took pictures with the proper angles and all that then went home to edit and send them out to his co-worker and guests.
He was editing a photo of the bride and groom dancing and was doing some kind of low light balancing in the background when he noticed something...inappropriate going on in the background. Between the bride and groom were the dinner tables in the background. A couple tables back, in the low, shadowy light of the photo, was a woman pleasing a guy underneath the table. My dad was at just the right angle when taking the photo.
Imagine being this passionate about trolleys.
The trolley man. Once a week a middle-aged man would come in to have the photos on his SD card digitally printed. It was always photos of out of commission train cars. Anywhere in the neighborhood of 500-1000 photos each week of different trolleys. Figured it was a hobby of his that he enjoyed, but to drop $50 weekly on photos of trains stuck me as odd. To each their own though.
To be fair, Taco Bell is beautiful.
Not me, but my buddy worked as a photo tech the summer before we left for college. He said about once every two weeks this guy would come in and get photos developed of Taco Bell products. Like, really nicely arranged on his dining room table.
Anything can be sexy if you try hard enough.
I worked in a 1-hour photo lab in an Eckerd in the early 00s. We went through every picture that was dropped off and color corrected them so I saw EVERYTHING. One of my favorites was a picture of this larger woman in a mauve, velour mini dress posing on her hands and knees atop an HVAC unit behind her ratty looking duplex. It was so weird. Of all of the strange places to take "sexy" photos, that would not be the first choice.
I saw lots of other bizarre and random things in my 2 years there. Naked people, bizarre houses, dead people, the inside of chicken processing plants (which when taken with disposable cameras looked like something out of horror movies). There were lots of people who were regulars and so I basically had a rather voyeuristic view into the best moments of their life. It was an interesting job.
Some Avant Garde art best left to its devices.
Weird is all about perspective. I managed a supermarket minilab 20 years ago when 35mm was still king. I loved it. *trigger warning*
One that stands out was a series from an art student. There was a 1950's subversive series of quiet desperation. She did black and whites, dressed in a vintage housewife outfit, complete with the hairstyle... and had her head in the oven to mimic suicide. There was another with the perfect housewife suicide by toaster in the bathtub image.
She did a Betty Page series, too.
Well, this is embarrassing.
When I was in high school I briefly worked at the One Hour Photo at my local Target store.
For the most part nothing too weird, except for one guy who dropped off a disposal camera filled with close up pictures of his "bulge" in different pairs of underwear. He never came back in to pick up the photos.
"A 12-month calendar made of their friend passed out at parties." Genius.
I worked at a Ritz years ago right around the time they started to disappear. There are really so many standouts. Some bros got a 12-month calendar made of their friend passed out at parties.
There was a guy who always came in with multiple rolls of normal family photos but one time the last picture was him reclining nude on a couch with cans of beer surrounding him as he gazed into the camera. I removed the red-eye for him and I don't know if he ever noticed. It's really a thankless job.
There were some bondage rolls on occasion dropped off by the most mild-mannered man but they were, like, VERY amateur snuff film style with this big giant cowboy and lots of strangers coming and going from the scene. I never saw the cowboy in real life; only in the photos.
I imagine there were a lot of questions.
Slightly different perspective, but a few years ago one of my college roommates found two disposable cameras that had never been developed. We finally had the pictures made up about ~15 years after they were taken. Apart from a lot of group shots and alcohol, there was this one particular photo of a man and woman eating cereal at our dinner table completely naked. None of us have any idea who they were.
This is why you have strangers develop your photos.
Last summer I scanned a boxful of my grandparents' old negatives. There was a whole roll of my grandma posing naked in the woods and by a lake... I remember every time I hear from my grandparents. (shudders). Maybe that's why people get strangers to deal with their pictures...
Imagine the inconvenience of having to pay to develop your nudes.
I worked at a one hour photo back in the day.
So many penises. So. Many. Penises.
Even the eggplant meme isn't new.
My mom worked in a photo lab years ago and these are the worst things she saw...
An infected penis piercing.
Jesus was supervising the preparation of the car.
Worked in a photo lab for almost 10 years, lots of weird ones. My favorite was a guy who dropped off a standard 24 roll. The first 12 pictures were of an older car that he was restoring, in various angles and lighting. He had a portrait of Jesus that he kept moving so that it was in the bottom of each picture. The other 12 photos were of him having sex with his girlfriend in the car. The portrait of Jesus was not in those pictures.
Brought something hard to be developed...
Not a developer but worked in a pharmacy that had photo service. This hot guy came in every week with rolls of pictures for development. One day I could not stand any more suspense...and peeked.
They were core sample photos.
Gets weirder...5 years later we move to a diff state. Guess who was our new next door neighbor? LOL. Geologists.
Must have been one special shoe.
Saw all the normal stuff. Intentional nudes, peephole stuff, party scenes, or could just be fooling around.
The strangest? Had a guy who came in with an entire roll of a woman's shoe. Like 36 pictures of one single woman's shoe. Staged. Backdrop. The works.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.