Anonymous development?
July 21, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I need to get some film developed, and I don't want it to be seen by anyone.

I have some 35mm film that got mixed up during a move. There are pictures of an important family event mixed with very compromising pictures of an ex-girlfriend that I am still on good terms with. Nothing has been developed because I do not, under any circumstances, want the explicit pictures to get out.

Is there a way to get these developed and not have them seen (even index prints)? I used to develop my own B&W, but I no longer have the equipment, and I have no experience with color.

Bonus points for coming up with a method that has no human involvement whatsoever, as I would rather not have them developed then have the possibility of incriminating pictures of this person ending up online somewhere.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (19 answers total)
 
How about you call up places that do in house development (e.g. most drug stores) and ask them if they will let you supervise their processing because they contain naked pictures of your wife and you don't want them to run off extra copies.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:36 PM on July 21, 2007


Your best bet would be to go to a small independant photo lab, explain the situation and even go so far as to request a manager develop them and allow you to be present during the processing.

If they are reluctant, see how far offering a bit of extra cash gets you - how much are you willing to pay to see these pics?
posted by davey_darling at 3:36 PM on July 21, 2007


independent (dangit)
posted by davey_darling at 3:37 PM on July 21, 2007


Many pro facilities will allow you to rent darkrooms with all the fixings by the hour. If you have experience processing B&W, I don't imagine you'll find colour that much of a jump.
posted by docgonzo at 3:38 PM on July 21, 2007


Note that if a place automatically does digital processing, their machine makes a digital copy as it develops the film. (I may be using terms wrong here, but you get the drift - just be sure the place isn't using a digital machine to develop)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:57 PM on July 21, 2007


If there was a way in which you can have one roll of film processed to only negatives them you can tell which is what without any actual photos being printed. I think, but am not sure, that most of the places that have large machines to develop the pfilm will hardly glance at them until the print making stage. So a one hour place, one roll of film and negative only option may work well in a pinch.
posted by edgeways at 3:59 PM on July 21, 2007


I don't know any specific place offhand, but I have seen ads in photo magazines specifically for "discrete" film processing.
posted by The Deej at 4:41 PM on July 21, 2007


If you're in a city with a professional film lab, you can ask for the film to be developed "process only." Lots of professionals do this because they're only going to be scanning it, so they don't need prints at all. Further, tell the lab "no cut" and what you'll get is a long strand of developed negative. Then you can cut the neg apart into family and ex, and go get prints of the family stuff. (Note: you'll be charged the reprint rate, which is higher.) Alternatively, at that point you could scan the negative yourself if you've got a scanner.

If you happen to be in NYC, Duggal is one such lab.
posted by xo at 4:48 PM on July 21, 2007


BY the way, the big labs that process for drugstores, etc (the cheap service that takes a few days, not the one-hour service) run so many negatives that the computer adjusts the exposure for each print, and there is a only cursory inspection at the end.

I don't think anyone can develop it without looking at it. But due to sheer volume, you might be safer there than a one-hour place. And if you are not ordering digital files, someone along the line would have to deliberately scan your negatives to end up with a file. IF said files ever became public, they would be at risk for a lawsuit. And surely you are not the only one to ever submit fleshy photos.

Obviously there is never a guarantee that someone along the line doesn't have a personal collection. But the odds of your photos standing out decreases as the volume of processing goes up.

Just don't watch One Hour Photo until you are in the clear.
posted by The Deej at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2007


We don't know where you are, but most large cities will still have professional film labs that will, at your request, develop film without making prints. Look for a place that develops 120 film as well as 35mm.

(And of course, once you can look at the negs, you can choose which frames to have printed -- again, the professional places will be much more discrete about the naked shots, and probably less interested in them, too, as they see "art nudes" all the time.)
posted by lisa g at 4:51 PM on July 21, 2007


Welcome to 5th Avenue Color Labs

Fast, Discreet, Quality Photo Processing!
We can handle those "special" pictures for you. We
have NO restrictions on picture content! We just develop and
print it for you and return your prints and negatives.
posted by The Deej at 4:52 PM on July 21, 2007


(or, what xo said.)
posted by lisa g at 4:53 PM on July 21, 2007


I don't know any specific place offhand, but I have seen ads in photo magazines specifically for "discrete" film processing.
posted by The Deej at 7:41 PM on July 21 [+] [!]


Really, you can trust us, we would never peek at your sweet, naked girlfriend, oh never, I mean jee, we don't even like sex or anything. Unless you are having your film processed by yourself or monks, and even then, there are no assurances.
posted by caddis at 6:18 PM on July 21, 2007


Really, you can trust us, we would never peek at your sweet, naked girlfriend, oh never, I mean jee, we don't even like sex or anything. Unless you are having your film processed by yourself or monks, and even then, there are no assurances.
posted by caddis


AHA! Ya, that's it! You saw the ad too then!
posted by The Deej at 6:33 PM on July 21, 2007


> Note that if a place automatically does digital processing, their machine makes a digital copy as it develops the film. (I may be using terms wrong here, but you get the drift - just be sure the place isn't using a digital machine to develop)

This actually isn't true, at least for a Fuji Frontier machine (which is the most common kind). The operator has to explicitly tell the machine to save the scans (actually, they are sent to another computer which saves them), or else the Frontier erases the scan from memory as soon as the print is made.

You could also get develop-only processing and scan the negatives yourself. It's possible (although not all that practical) to do so with a flatbed scanner.
posted by neckro23 at 6:41 PM on July 21, 2007


Yeah, my point about the digital prints was that even if he's standing next to the guy and takes his negatives back without any prints being made, the guy could surreptitiously hit "save" on the interesting images, and he might not realize it. So better to go non-digital.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:38 PM on July 21, 2007


the professional places will be much more discrete

Do the less professional places lack well defined boundaries?

(sorry for the pedantry)
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2007


I'm assuming you're talking about actual sex acts here, because nudity really is not "compromising" to my mind...

I worked in photo labs for years, everything from the small local shop to a massive nationwide lab. At every scale each print was inspected by human eyes before being returned to the customer.

There were several things I inspected for besides quality: child abuse, obvious illegal stuff like that. If there were photos with nudity we treated them as usual, even colour correcting them. But if the photos included sexual contact, we couldn't print them (or couldn't sell them if prints were automatically made). We just gave them the negatives. This was by law in Canada.

Believe me, your average photofinishing professional has seen it all. To the point that your dirty pix are mostly humourous. I've never heard of someone stealing nudies from a lab I worked in, but we certainly did giggle over them from time to time. (Most homemade "erotica" is really badly shot!)
posted by loiseau at 5:21 PM on July 22, 2007


Just keep 'em away from Bee.
posted by blueberry at 10:06 PM on July 22, 2007


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