This article is based on the AskReddit question "People who have developed film, what is the most shocking thing you have ever seen on a customers camera?"
[Sources can be found at the end of the article]
1/20. I worked at a Walmart photo lab around 2006. I received this roll of film that had all of these awesome dynamic action shots of this one guy. It was him diving into water from tall rocks, sky diving, dirt bike riding, etc. He was doing all of these amazing things and I wanted talk about this with him when he came in.
But then I got to the end of the film and was shocked that he was actually in a casket. He had died. I never found out I never found out how it happened or anything but it was just one of those shocking moments that sticks with you. I didn't expect him to be dead after watching him live his life to the fullest like that.
2/20. Old lady would bring in a disposable camera about once every 2 weeks. 95% of the pictures were of the TV. She would see something she wanted to buy off of the home shopping network, and wanted to remember to get it later... so she took a photo of it.
3/20. I work at a 1 hour photo lab. Some lady printed out pictures of her infant son's circumcision. That one was probably the most shocking to me.
We had a woman come in who was probably in her 50s. She tried to print out some nude pictures of herself. Me and my coworker had to explain to her that we couldn't print them because it was against company policy. She got mad and told us, "But I still look good for my age! See?" Like as if we were going to agree with her and let her do it.
This one's not really shocking, but it makes me laugh when I think about it. I had a little old lady come in one day to print out some pictures. She calls me over to the kiosk and asks for my opinion. She has a bunch of selfies and wants to know which one is the best because she's going to try online dating and needs a good profile picture.
The saddest one was a lady who was about 45-50 years old. She came in to get some pictures of herself printed. She said she was trying to choose pictures for her obituary because she'd just been diagnosed with some disease and doctors told her she may not live past another 6 months. I really had no words for that one. Completely caught me off guard. Most pictures I print are of vacations, family, friends, babies, pets, etc. But this one still haunts me. I'm pretty sure it's been over six months since I seen that woman. Makes me wonder how she is..
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4/20. I worked at Ritz camera around 2000. One day a woman came in with a cop and explained that she had a roll of film with her stillborn baby on it. Cop was there to verify it wasn't illegal. She was beyond nervous . .. she asked if I could make it look like the baby was alive. The stillborn pics were bluish grey so I did what I could to "warm it up" since Ritz guaranteed the best colors possible. She was thankful, I took the next day off and the cop came back later to explain that the woman lost her uterus due to some complication during the birth. The lady just wanted to remember her only chance at having a kid.
5/20. I used to work at a Walgreens in the photo lab and was standing there watching a stack of photos print off. They appeared to be of an Easter party for some young children at first, then it went to all the children sitting at a dining room table with their Easter baskets in front of them.
First picture, they looked happy.
Second, they were frowning.
Third, downright crying.
By the fourth or fifth it became apparent that there was a giant stem of broccoli in each of their baskets.
6/20. The weirdest ones I saw involved a middle aged couple who either owned a million pets, or got friends to lend them pets for awkward photo shoots. They came in every week with a new set to develop - cats in football uniforms, guinea pigs with glasses, etc. One time I developed a photo shoot of a bunch of lizards dressed like cowboys in front of a cardboard box colored to look like an old western. Weird stuff.
These were not high quality photos! It's possible, I guess, but it would have had to have been their "hobby" job, or something!
7/20. A murder scene. I worked at a grocery store in the lobby, so I developed a lot of film. This was a picture of a man laying in bed missing the majority of his head, next to a shotgun. We called the police and they waited for the person to pick the film up, he was actually a detective and needed it processed right away so he gave it to me knowing full well what was on it, instead of using the police lab. I was young and it was probably one of the worst things I have seen.
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8/20. Targets policy is that it is up to the employee's discretion to develop whatever they are not morally opposed to, as long as it was not illegal.
Best: Guy I was sort of starting to date in high school had his little sister come in and develop a role of film with photo editing. That means I preview the photos and edit them before printing. Was just a bunch of photos of trees and stuff until I came to pictures of pieces of paper on a picnic table that in each picture said... will... you... go... to... homecoming... with... me? He then came in to pick up the pictures himself for the answer and I obviously said yes.
9/20. Used to work a few different places. Probably the most shocking was traffic accident photos from the police. The one that sticks in my head is an arm dangling out of an SUV window. Obviously the guy was dead, and it just seemed so sad.
10/20. I've had a roll of film of an old person in a nursing home and, a few frames later, a hospital bed. Next came pictures of the wake at their funeral. This person was well, got sick and then died all in the span of this single roll of film. Mildly disturbing on an existential level to say the least.
11/20. Well, other than boobs and penises, I developed film for some older lady whose 50 year old son went missing. They found his body in a field 8 days afterwards and even though it wasn't his actual body it was of where his body was in the picture.
Think of a snow angel but in a patch of tall grass and completely black and bloody. It also turned out I was the last person to see this guy alive (I sold him batteries). Oddly enough, this lady thinks that her other son killed him.
So I'm not sure what about it was more shocking, the fact that it was a photo from a crime scene or the fact that I saw this dude the night he got murdered.
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12/20. Lots of nudist barbecues. I don't know what's up with Racine, Wisconsin and their nudist barbecues. Nothing else that was strange.
13/20. My first day working at CVS I developed a roll of film.
It starts out with this lady posing with her boyfriend around town. A few glamour shots here and there. Then I see a shot or two of her in a hospital gown; she's lying on a bed, smiling, waving. Then I see her vagina stretching, like a snake's jaw unhinged, pushing out her baby. There were about two or three of these shots.
It was one of those disposable cameras. So the powerful flash made all of the fluids glossy.
14/20. I worked at Walmart one hour photo and the strangest thing I've seen was an old woman who dressed up her cats and attempted to make some kind of play with them. Like a tea party or something.
15/20. I used to work Loss Prevention at Wal-Mart back in the late 90s. One day I got paged to the photo lab and the tech asked me if she should call the police.
She handed me a set of black and white photos that she had just developed and they seemed to be photos of dead bodies. One had a guy hanging from a tree, another was a girl in a tub with her throat slit. I went through the stack and see if there are any live people in them. We called the police and waited for them to come. An officer and detective showed up and looked through the photos and asked if we had the customers information available. The tech read off the customer's name and from behind us, we hear someone say "yes? "
There's a 20-something year old guy and girl standing there. The detective starts asking them questions when the officer says to me "isn't that the dead guy and girl in these pictures?" We look at them and as we figure out that they were faked scenes, the detective is told the same thing by the couple. They were shooting for scenes for an art gallery and really didn't think anything was wrong.
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16/20. It wasn't just one photo but an entire disposable camera worth of photos. All of the 27 or so pictures consisted of this 40 year old looking man flashing different gang signs in various poses. It was crazy because this guy looked the part of your average suburban dad. I guess we all have dreams.
17/20. We had a regular who would come in once or twice a week to print a few photos. He was a funny old man, and we always loved it when he came in. One year we got a heavy snow right before Christmas. He had his wife take pictures of him shovelling snow butt naked. He was going to send it to his sons with his Christmas cards. Unfortunately he passed away and never picked them up. Several months later his daughter came in to print some photos and we let her know her father still had pictures if she wanted them. The look on her face when she saw them was priceless. We all got a good laugh.
18/20. Not me, but my mom used to when she was paying her way through college. She said that every Tuesday for about 2 months a guy came in and dropped off the film, and it was pictures of illegal drugs, and himself naked. And he just stayed there for the hour hitting on her. She quit soon after that.
19/20. Professional photo set of a model (female) in this old, abandoned psych ward (which happens to be part of my university). Anyway, she's in a bikini and wearing a gas mask, and is covered in some kind of slime/dark oily stuff, and is making weird poses and even hanging from balconies and parts of the ceiling and whatnot. Pretty creepy. All the pictures had this weird green tint... Probably a set of at least 72.
20/20. This older guy dropped off two rolls of film and asked me if we delete photos that look blank or don't turn out right. I said that yes, we do try to save the customer money by not printing out completely blank frames.
He told me to please not do that to his rolls because he was taking pictures of "the ghosts in my house." (To clarify, his house; I am just quoting him.)
Every picture on both rolls was completely black. He paid for all of them and seemed very excited about how they turned out.
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