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November 7, 2007 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Where to process nude photos?

My partner and I have recently decided to do some nude photos of one another. We'd like to use an actual film camera instead of digital, but fear that pervs at the processing lab might steal copies for themselves. Is this stupid paranoia, or is it justified? If it is a legit concern, are there certain processing/developing labs that would be more trustworthy than others?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you did black and whites you could develop as many as you like at home.
posted by Evstar at 6:21 PM on November 7, 2007


I don't really understand why you'd want to mess with film. Not only is digital more private and lower risk, but the result will be better. Any weird effect you could produce with film, you can produce either at the time with digital, or create later with post processing.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:25 PM on November 7, 2007


I had a friend who had that job for a while. The people who develop photos are required by policy to report any illegal activity / underage activity. So they do look at the photos, and its pretty easy to make an extra copy. Why can't you just use a Digital Camera and printer? Or maybe do an online place that will ship them to you. Then you won't have to pick them up from a real person.
posted by WetherMan at 6:26 PM on November 7, 2007


The plural of anecdote is not data, but I have had two different acquaintances who worked at photo processing places. Both talked about the "binder" of photos that the lab kept full of compromising photos. They recommended that sensitive photos like this are often best taken to 1-hour photo places because quite often those are processed by machine, although a technician usually proofs the first few to make sure that the machine is operating correctly. I seem to recall that most of these machines have a video screen that displays the photo being processed. This screen is often in plain view of customers.

Maybe you can pad the roll of film with some normal pictures or shop for an internet processing plant that specializes in this kind of thing? You could probably visit a local adult video store/toy store and ask them for recommendations for discreet processing.
posted by proj at 6:27 PM on November 7, 2007


As Evstar says, if you take them in black and white, you can develop them yourself.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:29 PM on November 7, 2007


1. I have a feeling that the reason you chose to use film instead of digital is for the quality.

You can get pretty amazing results using digital camera. Just use a good one, like the Canon Digital DSLR.

You don't have to buy one, just rent one and you're set. Rent a 40D / 5D / 1DMk3. You can rent them from http://adorama.com or http://calumetphoto.com

2. And as Evstar suggested, if you shoot B+W, you can process as much as you want at home--but rolling the film is tricky to get it right the first time.

You can easily find a local photographer--or you know what, find an art school and pay a photography student to do that for you.

3. You can also just hire a professional photographer to shoot and process for you. This is also another safe way--and if necessary, sign a contract.
posted by seeminglee at 6:30 PM on November 7, 2007


search with "discrete photo processing"
posted by parmanparman at 6:31 PM on November 7, 2007


acquaintances who worked at photo processing places. Both talked about the "binder" of photos that the lab kept

I've had those acquaintances. Not only does the lab keep a binder, they will run extra prints of the really funny ones to give away at parties to random drunk people. No blurring of faces or hiding of any details.

Go digital, or learn to do your own processing.
posted by Forktine at 6:32 PM on November 7, 2007


Seconding forktine. Here's an earlier Ask thread, with two responses from moi.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:35 PM on November 7, 2007


posted by Steven C. Den Beste Not only is digital more private and lower risk, but the result will be better. Any weird effect you could produce with film, you can produce either at the time with digital, or create later with post processing.

This is incorrect.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:37 PM on November 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


"I don't really understand why you'd want to mess with film. Not only is digital more private and lower risk, but the result will be better. Any weird effect you could produce with film, you can produce either at the time with digital, or create later with post processing."

Well, I can think of three reasons off the top of my head:

It's cheaper to buy a film camera that will give you good quality than a digital camera. If you already own a film camera, it's even cheaper to keep using that. It's not safer to use a film camera, due to the ease of digital distribution.

Oh, and further—there are a lot of things that you can do only with film (mostly negative work), or that are so incredibly difficult with digital compared to film (again, mostly negative work) as to be functionally prohibitive.

If you'd searched Ask Me, you'd have found this; if you'd searched google, you'd have found this.
posted by klangklangston at 6:38 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


search with "discrete photo processing"

You might have better luck searching for "discreet photo processing."
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:42 PM on November 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


Oh, and further—there are a lot of things that you can do only with film (mostly negative work), or that are so incredibly difficult with digital compared to film (again, mostly negative work) as to be functionally prohibitive.

If he's looking for discreet places to develop his film, I would highly doubt the OP is planning on doing negative work.

Unless you want to learn more about the guts of photography, there's no reason for casual photographers to use film anymore. It takes longer, has greater operating costs (film and developing), is easier to screw up shots (no instant review), and it relies on a third party for developing.
posted by chundo at 8:33 PM on November 7, 2007


Discrete.

right, well, yes. I had it right the first time.
posted by parmanparman at 8:38 PM on November 7, 2007


In high school, all the guys that worked at the photo lab would bring in copies of nude photos. Sometimes, they'd even enlarge them, Xerox them, put them into the underground newspaper...

Please, don't take them to the local photo lab.
posted by Gucky at 8:49 PM on November 7, 2007


If you have to use film, I'd take a photography class at the local community college, so you can get darkroom access. I would never trust any photo processing business for that kind of stuff. I can tell you from working at Kinkos that we kept, and frequently laughed at, that sort of stuff all the time.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:50 PM on November 7, 2007


There are businesses online, like this one, that specialize in private adult photo processing (and, in fact, "adult photo processing" seems to be a good search term). I can't vouch for any of the businesses, but maybe it's worth researching those options.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:54 PM on November 7, 2007


Polaroid?
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:19 PM on November 7, 2007


chundo writes "Unless you want to learn more about the guts of photography, there's no reason for casual photographers to use film anymore. It takes longer, has greater operating costs (film and developing), is easier to screw up shots (no instant review), and it relies on a third party for developing."

On the other hand film doesn't get deleted accidentally, archiving is fire and forget and if your desired output is projection it is a lot cheaper.

To answer your question I'd shoot Kodachrome (IE: K-14 process) if you've got slide experience. Dwayne's is the only place still doing the processing but you can drop them off at many processors or send them through B&H. Kodachromes are processed in a massive machine and the processing isn't adjusted by the operators so the images aren't reviewed even in passing. Mail order processors are just going to repackage and send the slides out.
posted by Mitheral at 9:34 PM on November 7, 2007


If you're in Minnesota, send me mefimail. I know some folks who do really high-quality photos and developing and everything, and I think you would enjoy working with them.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:27 PM on November 7, 2007


This totally depends on the photos and the jurisdiction. I worked in photofinishing for years and where I lived we were not allowed to print pictures with physical contact. If they were already printed they were supposed to be destroyed. We had to report illegal activity (obviously non-consensual stuff) as well.

In my years in that biz with different companies and different levels of volume I never ever knew anyone to take pictures home -- that would be a serious breach of ethics and would be a no-questions firing offence -- but yeah. We did laugh at them, because 99.99% of home porn is totally unsexy.

All that being said I would never send out my own nudie pics to be printed. The least risky thing -- if you absolutely must use film -- would be to send it for negative processing ONLY, not even cutting. Then use a scanner with a negative attachment and a printer to make the prints yourself at home. If you ask for the negs just to be processed no one will look at them with much scrutiny.
posted by loiseau at 3:09 AM on November 8, 2007


I never ever knew anyone to take pictures home

My friends would print extras of not only the sex pics (which were generally staggeringly unsexy, as you suggest) but also the cross-dressing photos, the birthing photos, and the weird fetish photos. Absolutely it was a breach of ethics (and perhaps even illegal) for them to have been handing out copies of some poor woman giving birth. But that didn't stop us from laughing our drunk asses off, and then thumbtacking those photos to the living room wall. Yes, we had no class, but the friends who worked at the photo place said that every photo shop in the city was the same.
posted by Forktine at 4:08 AM on November 8, 2007


Unless you want to learn more about the guts of photography, there's no reason for casual photographers to use film anymore.

This is SUCH a sad attitude. All these strict digital adherents are missing out on a really rich artistic discipline. I can't imagine why anyone would say, "Why would you want to use film?"

Film is amazing. A truly manual camera is magical. You can do untold effects and processing tricks and manipulations of film and final prints that are absolutely impossible (or tedious) with digital. I love digital for quick and dirty stuff, but it doesn't TOUCH the richness of the experience with film. Not to mention that a lot of digital prints will lose their beauty after many years while film prints often age in interesting ways. To each their own, but it shocks me that people aren't even INTERESTED in normal photos any more. It's a real shame.

Honestly? I wouldn't worry too much about some dweebs at the photo lab laughing at your photos, or saving prints. They've seen the worst of the worst and the strangest of the strange (my sister worked at one, and yes, I heard some stories). Yours will probably not elicit much commentary at all (unless I misread your tastes). I would send them out to a professional photo lab that does film processing and eagerly await the results. What's the fear that someone will steal an image for themselves? I would examine that and see what it is about that possibility is frightening to you.
posted by agregoli at 10:38 AM on November 8, 2007


Film is great and I'm not interested in contributing to some film or digital debate, but when I read comments like posted by fandango_matt about how it is "incorrect" to think that you can't do any digital versions of what you can do in film, I have two thoughts: first, if you really want to, you certainly can (I'd love to see examples of what you can't do with a solid digital camera and a solid knowledge of photoshop); second, digital and film are different formats and it's kind of the wrong to just think of how do we get one to mimic the other. It's like comparing going across country in an 18-wheeler or an airplane: depends on what you're aiming to bring across.
posted by history is a weapon at 10:49 AM on November 8, 2007


This is SUCH a sad attitude. All these strict digital adherents are missing out on a really rich artistic discipline. I can't imagine why anyone would say, "Why would you want to use film?"

I'm a photographer and I disagree. We're talking about nude photos, not a budding artist trying to find their process. There is zero reason to use film in this situation. If the original question was about shooting 4x5 black and white and making really beautiful silver gelatin prints then the "just do it digital" would be uncalled for but they want privacy, and the best way to get that is to just cut out the lab entirely. It doesn't sound like anonymous here is going to be making masterpieces anyways.

I mean I understand what you are saying, but speaking as someone who hand developed hundreds (probably more like thousands) of rolls and printed them the old fashioned way, both color and black and white, I just think this is ridiculous. There is a place for film, amateur nude photos is not it.

And agregoli... an inkjet print made today will last longer than any RA-4 print. Digital printing has gotten very good very fast. In the hands of an artist or master printer, yes there are advantages to using film but we're not talking about that kind of situation here.
posted by bradbane at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2007


"Unless you want to learn more about the guts of photography, there's no reason for casual photographers to use film anymore. It takes longer, has greater operating costs (film and developing), is easier to screw up shots (no instant review), and it relies on a third party for developing."

Again, higher quality at the same price, and easier control over distribution. Film has to be printed or scanned, digital copies can be sent anywhere.

Further, how's this for an answer—the OP didn't fucking ask about digital, so that's all fucking chaff instead of ANSWERS.

The one final bit of advice I'd have for the OP is to familiarize themselves with 2257 regulations, unless they're in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Kentucky.
posted by klangklangston at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2007


I worked in a photo lab long ago when dinos roamed the earth, or thereabouts. Back then the "dry to dry" time was about 45 minutes if you included printing, about 25 if you didn't. I had a few people who would bring in film for negative-only processing which was a pretty good way to keep us from seeing what was on it. I distinctly remember one asking me how long it was in the machine, watching me feed it in and then coming back and watching it come out.

MAN I wanted to know what was on that, but I didn't obviously gape at it. What I could see in passing was pretty unrevealing, given the size and inverted nature of the negative. I have no idea how he ever made productive use of those negatives unless he printed them himself. Which I suppose he might have done, either on color or on black&white paper which is reactive to the full spectrum.*

You could do the same thing but take those negatives and scan them instead. Flatbeds with negative scanners are pretty cheap, at least compared to digital SLRs. I realize this flirts with this not being what you asked about, but since you don't say why you'd prefer film... *shrug*

Honestly, anything you let out of your hands is going to have the copy problem. And yes, at our lab we made copies for our own jollies. My only observation on that matter would be, how much does it matter? I suppose if y'all are particularly hot or the shots particularly funny or odd they could find their way onto the internet, however odds are that a few young folks will pass them around, get a chortle and then forget about them. If you use a fake name and pay cash it's near 0 chance they'll ever be connected to you.

Your best solution, as other said, is to find a place that specializes in this stuff. Google lists two here. You can also look up local professional processing companies - you're not the only person shooting nudes on film in your town, odds are.

*The B&W option was easier in the sense that it didn't require the stricter temperature control that color did, though you had to work in complete darkness till the image was in the fixer for some period of time. Not much fun feeling your way around but useful if you were primarily set up for B&W. I also briefly had a drum setup for doing color but found the cost and hassle not worth it to me.
posted by phearlez at 2:31 PM on November 8, 2007


klangklangston writes "The one final bit of advice I'd have for the OP is to familiarize themselves with 2257 regulations, unless they're in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Kentucky."

Or not residents of the USA at all.
posted by Mitheral at 8:17 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is SUCH a sad attitude. All these strict digital adherents are missing out on a really rich artistic discipline. I can't imagine why anyone would say, "Why would you want to use film?

I think you missed my "casual photographers" qualifier.

Also everything bradbane said.
posted by chundo at 9:40 AM on November 9, 2007


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