Photo Developers Break Down The Weirdest Images They've Ever Processed
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

When one is processing photographs and film you are automatically involved in the secrets and events of the lives of strangers. It can be fascinating and heartwarming but more often than not, haunting and shocking. Why is it people don't seem to think ahead before they give strangers access to their lives? Somethings are just not meant to by seen by the general public.

Redditor u/lil_datum was wondering what images those who have processed film can never unsee by asking.... People who used to work in photo labs before digital cameras, what weird stuff did you develop?


naked george costanza GIFGiphy

Coworkers nudes........ I worked at Walmart, happened a lot.

A really old woman, like 70s or so, posing in lingerie. Every few photos an article of clothing is removed. Up till the last photo spread eagle fully naked.....

Coworker had pics of 2 guys going at it. Guy picks them up. Order comes through again, we don't sell the nudes btw. Guy picks those up. Orders again. Comes in and then decides to complain.

Then there was one of a guy in an odd pose with a rolled sock over his junk and a stick of deodorant in one hand.

Had lots of requests from guys wanting to print their naked body on a blanket for their girlfriend.

Also forgot one. Had an 80 year old man who dumped his SD card on cds. Somehow the computer picked a very specific set of photos to print on the front of the cd for thumbnails. It was him with an equally aged sex worker in a hotel. He flipped out on us about how these photos don't exist and no one knows about this and he was gonna give these to his family for Christmas......


Negative Space

I used to work in a pharmacy 1-hour photo lab during high school. Digital cameras weren't really a thing yet - the only ones around were really expensive.

There were a couple instances of people bringing in sexy time photos, but honestly, that was pretty rare.

The weirdest stuff, honestly, was when someone would drop off an entire roll of film with only one or two pictures on it.

Or people that didn't know how to use their camera so the film wouldn't wind/advance far enough for the next shot and you'd get overlapping images on the negative. And then people would complain about us ruining their pictures and I'd have to explain that, no, they ruined them all by themselves.


The Ritz

I worked at a Ritz Camera in a mall, this was when digital cameras were pretty expensive for the average person so a huge portion of orders were film.

So many penis pics, like multiple every day for different orders. I still don't get it. Lots of naked people.

The police department photos were rough to do.


Too Much to Look

I also worked at a Ritz Camera, I think it was called Kits Camera for awhile before it became Ritz. We also had to do police Department photos. Usually my more experienced coworker who was a few years older than I was at the time would print them.

I remember one time an officer came in needing an order that day and I was the only one on staff. Case was a man who committed suicide by shotgun. He looked like he was just sitting down at the top of some stairs in most of them.

I have an older holiday photo of my brother who fell asleep at a family party in a very similar position and I just can't help but think of the man who committed suicide every time I see the photo of my brother.

I was really lucky my coworker insisted on processing most of the images.


Haunted Events

black and white horror GIFGiphy

The absolute most bizarre was when a local photo photographer accidentally double-exposed his sister's wedding photos onto his aunt's funeral.

There were strangely macabre images of the couple walking down the aisle overlaid atop the open casket.


Watch Closely

My brother works for a photo developers where they also transfer VHS to DVD and digital, he says about 30% of the videos are home pornography. The thing is, someone has to watch the entirety of the copy to check the quality, they have to watch everything!! I think most people think its all done by computers and no one will ever know whats on the tapes, boy are they wrong!! He has many stories to tell!


The Innocent

I was a photo lab manager for 5 years and can't recall ever seeing full on porn. We edited every photo that came through the system. There was no auto print. My volume was 2000ish prints a day.

But then again I wasn't working at a big store. Many average people complained that our prices were higher but the pros loved us because we actually kept our printers and monitors calibrated.

Most of what we printed was pro weddings and portraits. Some boudoir photography though! Tasteful nudes.

Lots of massive retouching jobs of antique family portraits.


When at Walmart

WalMart 1 hour photo mid 1990s checking in.

We had the occasional funny/depressing nudes (could not print, just put a preprinted "naughty note" in the envelope), wet t-shirt contests (mostly would print, unless the manager or the ex-nun was working). I also remember a totally scuzzy guy dropping off a roll of sad attempted glamour shots of his equally scuzzy girlfriend wearing a bikini on a sport bike in their super messy garage, but most difficult was parents with their stillborn infant.

Started off with first photos thinking it was just parents at hospital with their newborn. Then realized they didn't look happy. Then realized baby was not alive. Sad day. But appreciated these were likely the only photos they'd ever have of this child they'd been anticipating for months, and took more time color correcting for the fluorescent hospital lights than we were really supposed to spend per roll.


Not "Cool"

Called the Cops: Young parents with a toddler and they were holding guns to each others heads (including baby), and then at the camera. The poses seemed like they were trying to be "cool".

Sad: Parents posing with their stillborn child in all sorts of "alive looking" poses, like sitting on the dad's lap. But the last pic was the baby in the coffin.

Sad: We handled the film for the police assault team. Lots of bruises, black eyes, stab wounds and trauma wounds both inside and out.


That Day

American Flag GIFGiphy

I developed photos from Ground Zero which was taken by a construction worker who was down there working on the clean up.


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.