November 7th, 2002


Real life photo lab stories

First, I feel the duty to remind everyone that while I stand by my "One Hour Photo" review, the movie itself turns into a total mess at the end. Read my 15-30 minute rule below. No complaining, ok?!?!

For the last few days the memories of all the weird, sad, and creepy customers and photos have come flooding back. Here are a few to amuse your prurient interests:

"Rockford" If this guy hadn’t been such I jerk, I would have felt sorry for him. He brought in a roll a week and put it under the name "Rockford". He only took pictures of his TV when "The Rockford Files" was on. And even then only of the star James Garner in various cool poses. Of course, unless you correct for the television screen using no flash and the correct film speed, you get horizontal static lines. He didn’t know how to correct so he’d demand not to be charged for the third to half of his roll that would never turn out. I didn’t care about my boss’s money, but he tried to be all hard-boiled private eye about it which rubbed me the wrong way. Dude, you take pictures of the TV all day. That’s not tough, that’s Loserville.

Police Death Photos The local police and CHP used our lab for accident photos and murder scenes. I printed the Bill Graham helicopter accident death photos and the Mitchell Brothers murder (I can never remember which one murdered the other) as well as many more anonymous people. They were gross and not amusing at all. Of course the goths and punks I knew all wanted copies.

Rich People’s Vacations Did I mention I worked in a mall in Marin? Shiny white people in expensive traveler gear posing unabashedly with the natives in whatever 3rd world country they were visiting for its beauty, trendiness, and spiritual wisdom.

Bad Porn Any explanation needed? We had one regular who never seemed to be able to take a picture of a nude without wires hanging down, the backdrop falling, lines of coke in the foreground, or with both of the woman’s eyes open at the same time. Seriously. Ten rolls a week and not any pictures remotely professionally done. He did real estate photography on the side so you never knew what you’d get. I often thought about switching the prints, but I just couldn’t do it.

Weird Art One of the amusing things my boss, the asshole, did was set up an account with a local professional lab. We often had to kick out annoying customers pretending to be professionals and demanding the impossible. When he set up the account with the other lab, we all were allowed to kick them out by saying, "Someone of your abilities really needs to go to a pro lab, why not try XXXXX Color Lab. They’ll take care of you." Without fail they’d go there and order the "machine prints" at twice the price (but still much cheaper than actual professional proofs) and the rolls of film would still come to us. We had different envelopes and everything and we didn’t have to deal with the jerks as much.

Anyways, from that lab I got the weirdest negatives I ever saw. They were "process only" so I almost missed it, but when I sleeved the negs I saw something strange going on. Five rolls but only a few images. First, the ground, 10-15 shots. Then a plate on the ground for the rest of the first roll. Then more plate on ground. Then a big human shit* on the plate, a couple of rolls worth. Then a fork with the shit on the plate on the ground, another roll worth. Then, the fork removed, the photographers penis next to the shit, on the plate, on the ground, until the end of the roll. I still don’t have anything clever to say about this and it’s been about ten years.

If You’re Going To Have an Affair Take the Pics to an Out of Town Photo Lab I mean duh. Do you think we don’t look at your pictures. We are underpaid. We don’t like you. WE ARE BORED BEYOND BELIEF. One day I called over my co-worker to look at some really funny nude shots. From the progression of negatives it was evident that two guys had picked up some woman at a bar and had gone home to some airy, expensive, designer architect home to fuck and take pictures. At some point, either out of humor, a truth-or-dare game, or boredom, they started taking some really amusing photos. My co-worker came over, began looking at the pictures, and gasped. "That’s my wife’s boss! And that’s not his wife!"

The picture? Some muscled yuppie, naked, with his flaccid dick drooping into a full glass of red wine of undoubtedly fine vintage that he cupped with one hand. A little too drunk to look sexy, he was trying as best he could with a super red nose and glassy eyes. A woman standing to the side, also naked, also red and glassy, stared at his crotch.

A copy was made for my co-worker’s wife. Her boss probably wondered what he had done to merit the laughter that followed him through the office for the next few weeks.

*Judging by size and precision of the placement on plate.