The Procrastinating Photographer (or… “Dude, This Film Is OLD!”)

by K.C. Collins, P.L. Miller & Graham Ballantine

Way on the back side of the film box, so small it can hardly be read (and hence must not be terribly important, right?), is a suggestion from the manufacturer: DEVELOP PROMPTLY.

“Prompt” is, of course, a relative term. After all, when one considers the billions of years that have gone into the making of what the world is today, five or ten of those years really isn’t that long, is it? No. Not unless you’re talking about that roll of film in your camera that just might have a grainy shot of Abe Lincoln delivering his Gettysburg address. (You can bet he didn’t get those goofy looks like certain modern-day politicians – of course, he might have and you wouldn’t know, would you, because that roll of film’s still in your camera, waiting to be finished and developed. Maybe it’s better that we don’t know.)

Since several of us have worked in photo labs and darkrooms, and have had the privilege of seeing really old film on a regular basis, we’ve compiled for you some real-life examples of film left just a bit too long in the camera. (You’d never do that, of course. We know you. You always develop your film promptly.)


You know your film might have been in the camera too long if…

…the kid hanging upside-down from the swing-set at his fourth birthday party in frame #2 is attending his high school graduation in frame #23.

…you’re proudly wearing your “New Kids on the Block” t-shirt, and it’s not from a reunion tour.

…the sporty new car in the pictures is the same one you had taken away to the junkyard last year because they no longer make parts for it.

…the kitchen appliances come out a sickening shade of avocado green no matter how much the lab tries to fix the color.

…in the living room shots, you can see the Watergate hearings in progress on the TV set in the background.

…your long-haired hippie brother in frame #4 is bald by frame #20.

…your house progresses through three different colors of trim during the course of the roll, and none of those are the color the trim is now.

…your size 4 girlfriend in frame #3 is your very pregnant wife by frame #22.

…the children in front of the Christmas tree are opening some large square things called “albums” instead of CDs and video games.

…as the roll progresses, you can see your husband’s entire weight-loss program: “before,” “after,” and “I swallowed a whole keg in one gulp.”

…your teenage goth-chick daughter in the Halloween shots on the end of the roll was a daffodil in the kindergarten play at the beginning of the roll.

…more than half the relatives on the roll have been dead for over five years. Some have now been dead longer than they were alive.

…at the beginning of the roll you have a two-car garage; by the end of the roll you have an SUV parked in front of an oversized storage building.

…most of the clothes you’re wearing in the pictures just sold for a quarter a piece in the neighborhood yard sale last week, and that was to a theater group who got all excited about finding “authentic period costumes.”

…the couple in the wedding pictures have divorced, are on their second marriages to other people, and you can only share these special photo-memories with them if you feel like getting slapped.

© Copyright 2005, 2007, 2011 by K.C. Collins, P.L. Miller & Graham Ballantine

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