How do I develop film from a disposable camera that I suspect contains a lewd picture?
June 10, 2006 2:40 PM   Subscribe

How do I develop film from a disposable camera that I suspect contains a lewd picture?

I have a disposable camera that hasn't been developed in close to 3 years. I'll spare the details, but I'm pretty sure someone took a graphic photograph of themselves with it. [Hint: don't piss off a girlfriend when she has your disposable camera in her hand...or just date classier people]. I never got it developed, because I felt embarassed and thought most establishments would have some kind of policy that would prevent them from developing/selling it. I'm assuming I can't do it discreetly via mail, because it must be violating federal law to put something like that in the mail. Is my thinking on this incorrect? Can I just bight the bullet and ask the store to throw away the offending photo and sell me the others? If I would have to do anything illegal, I'll just throw it away.
posted by Pacheco to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
I'm sure it's possible to crack open the camera and develop the actual film in a darkroom. Then you could just clip out the offending pic from the negatives and bring the rest to a photo booth or something to be printed on photo paper.
posted by Venadium at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2006

Take it to a place that does real photo processing, not WalMart. Most professional processors are used to "questionable" photos.
posted by ColdChef at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2006

Oh, wait. Ignore what I said if the subject is underage.
posted by ColdChef at 2:55 PM on June 10, 2006

Find a friend with a darkroom
posted by joshuak at 3:37 PM on June 10, 2006

Assuming the girl was (or appeared) over 18, no, you're not breaking any federal law to have the film developed by mail. And most establishments that refuse to develop pornography define "pornography" as...well, "interaction"; so if she took the photo herself, it's probably acceptable. Regardless, even if the photo does violate their policy, most places will simply remove the offending picture and sell you the remaining prints (along with a note explaining why).
posted by cribcage at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2006

Why would it be illegal to develop / post? You could claim innocence if it's a camera full of normal photos then BAM, one surprise. I've heard of people taking disposable cameras aside for a quick surprise snap at a party, so it's not the first time it's happened.

I used to know a guy who worked in a photo developing shop. He said they would get all types of gratuitous photos, and while they would be surprised at times, they would just pack them up when they were done and charge the regular amount.

I think you could probably ask for just the negatives to be developed if you don't want prints. I doubt they would go through the negatives, and there's no chance of anyone walking past a developing machine and seeing something.

Take your photos to a photo shop where you've never been before or will be again. Pick them up when they're done. Pay them and leave.
posted by tomble at 4:54 PM on June 10, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. Just to be clear, this is not a picture of any interaction...just a body part. I'm leaning towards a mix of sperose and ColdChef. I'm not sure about the photo development market in my city these days, so it will take some leg work (I live in one of those really f'ed up places with broken levees).
posted by Pacheco at 5:42 PM on June 10, 2006

You can't take it to normal photography places (pharmacies, WalMart, etc.) as they won't develop it.

I did a quick google search for 'discreet photo developing'
Here were three than handle this sort of stuff.

I think the only real question/problem is if she's underage...and if she's 16/'s likely nobody will notice.
posted by filmgeek at 5:51 PM on June 10, 2006

As others have said, any place other that is only a photo place will print them. There is no need to send them somewhere special or adult only.

We had at least 3-4 rolls a day that were like yours at our shop. Anyone working there for any length of time or two will have seen a million like them and not even blink.

Granted we also processed the crime scene and autopsy photos from the ME and local police department, so we were immune to pretty much anything.
posted by karmaville at 6:07 PM on June 10, 2006

I work photofinishing myself (at a drugstore) and wouldn't even blink if I developed your roll. Half the time nobody even looks at the photos anyways (just run the machine on automatic). And yes, we've seen it all before. These things happen. More often than you probably think.
posted by neckro23 at 7:41 PM on June 10, 2006

I once had a heart catheterization where they put the catheter into the femoral artery -- basically through the crotch. Because there was a lot of bleeding under the skin, I ended up with a hellacious bruise. So I did what just about anybody would do, which was to take pictures. Costco developed the whole roll in about an hour and handed them back without a comment or even a blink. Unfortunately, the wife threw them away before I could post them on the internet.
posted by faceonmars at 7:48 PM on June 10, 2006

I've known a couple of folks who work for 1-hour-type photolabs and when this queston comes up it's always the same. Unless there's children involved, they don't care. Adult nudity is seen regularly and the technicians really aren't interested. Unless it's especially hot stuff, in which case some have been known to make an extra print for their own private collection.
posted by normy at 8:32 PM on June 10, 2006

just find a professional photo lab and take it to them. unless the image is of underage boys/girls you should be fine.

i don't think it's a legal requirement that they contact the authorities if it were but most decent places will do so. but other than that (a situation which you don't find yourself in) you are fine.

if there are no professional labs near you, look one up online and just call them to let them know that you'd like to send a roll of film in because you don't live nearby. then just get the film processed, get it back...THEN...YOU can cut out whatever image you think will be offensive and take the rest of the film to a regular 1-hour place to get them printed if you want.

don't hold me to it but i really wouldn't worry about sending it to a pro lab. how do i know? i'm a photographer, worked in pro labs before and have had to deal with questions like this before.
posted by eatcake at 10:22 PM on June 10, 2006

also, depending on how the film was stored for those 3 years, you may or may not have any images left on them. e.g. if they were left in the sun, heat, humidity, in a car etc....
posted by eatcake at 10:23 PM on June 10, 2006

Color? You're fine. Color's all developed by machines anymore, and the techs usually don't even look at the photos. Dunno where you are, but any shop that's a real developer (not a Wal-Mart) won't give a shit. If anyone asks, tell 'em it was for an art class.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 AM on June 11, 2006

Ditto what everyone else said, but I like the idea of going to a place you've never been.

I worked in a small local photo shop in the Houston area back in high school. About a week before I quit, I stumbled upon my employer's 'secret drawer' where he kept *copies* of various 'adult' pictures that had come through the lab. I quit for other reasons, but after seeing that, I was glad I left.
posted by cebailey at 5:10 AM on June 11, 2006

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