Developing film inside of cameras privately bought

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by David Lyga, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Some time ago I bought a privately advertised SLR from a local young woman and was satisfied with the purchase. During inspection I noticed that there was a partially used roll of film in the camera but did not think more of this, as I was closely inspecting the camera and lenses. The price was good and my inspection warranted purchase.

    I really was happy with the purchase 'after the fact' and I decided to do this person a favor and attempt to process the film. I did this. They were family photos: different members sitting in chairs and such. However, she did not respond to my free offer to send them to her.

    In retrospect I think that I was presumptious and thoughtless: such photos were really none of my business and I just might have offended her with my 'daring forwardness'. At the time of developing the film I was totally innocent here and was really initially surprised that she did not return the courtesy. Now I honestly feel differently. I should have discarded the film or, perhaps even better, sent the unprocessed film back to her.

    I have a feeling that most viewers of this post will agree with my final decision. - David Lyga
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Send the unprocessed film back - or return in person, which I have done a couple times - is the most anyone should do.
    Personally, I'd be fit to be tied if a stranger processed and viewed (without my knowledge and consent) images I made.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I had sent number of free stuff here on APUG and I even paid for the shipping as I knew the "buyer" had limited funds. After the package was delivered, there wasn't even a word of "thanks" or acknowledgement via emails. I'm quite surprised at this but oh well.

    I will just do what I think is right and in good conscience/faith. People behave in strange and unexpected ways.

    My point being.... you can't do things and make a decision based on what someone might do or think as they can be quite predictable. You only have your own conscience to follow.
     
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  4. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    If the film in the camera was a big deal to the seller, they would have taken it out, or at least said something. Don't sweat it.


    Kent in SD
     
  5. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I think you are over-thinking it. I've been in similar situation with "found film". In general I've just handed it over and never thought about it again. In only one situation the person I returned it to actually told me that he had it processed and it was snaps of him and his Dad... long time ago. He was very appreciative. Often, though, there seems no serious interest, or the camera being sold wasn't theirs anyway so they have no emotional interest with the film inside. My inclination is more toward throwing it out.
     
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  6. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    "Presumptuous and thoughtless" is too harsh, but I do think it's wrong to develop someone's film without permission. If buying from a private party, you almost certainly have some contact info (phone number or email), and can give them an opportunity to come and get it. If buying from an intermediary (flea market, camera show), then I suppose the right thing to do is destroy it.
     
  7. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    You bought the camera and the film -- it is now yours. To develop, toss out or give back...or to print.

    It may not even be that woman's camera -- or at least not her images. Unless she told you differently, it could be an ex-boyfriend's camera who dumped her but forgot his camera, or whatever.
     
  8. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    ... the only risk when processing found film is that if you seek professional processing/printing and IF there were something illicit/illegal on the film, then you'd be left holding the bag.
     
  9. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    If a person a.) commits something embarrassing or scandalous to film, and b.) mindlessly gives the film away, then who's the thoughtless one? The film became your property when you purchased the camera. You were free to do with it what you wish. Unapologetically.

    That said, if I noticed it at the time of sale, certainly I'd have returned it. If I picked it up at a thrift store or flea market, I'd have developed it.

    If it's really old film, it might actually have historical value.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2012
  10. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I think I'd be intrigued to see the images myself, but would only worry about ruining the process, scratching etc. on the off chance the images had any value - sentimental or otherwise. Who knows what the images could have been? Cartier-Bressons perhaps? But what if they'd been something risque? I suppose the previous owner might have felt it prying, for the latter. If the woman was taking sentimental photographs of family members, or indeed doing something questionable with the camera, she would have taken the film out. Simple as. If she was just playing around with photography, she probably wasn't interested in the photos and therefore wasn't responsive to your courtesy. It's just another one of those social conundrums that photographers often find themselves in - curiosity vs the uptight. Don't worry about it.
     
  11. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Eric Ambler, Epitaph for a Spy.
     
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    David, the fact that you even bring it up for discussion shows that you have a conscience, and that you care about the privacy of the person that you bought the camera from. Nobody is perfect, and I don't think what you did was substantially wrong. If you have her address just send the film back. If not, and she doesn't reply within a year or so, just discard it.
    Would it have been better to hand her the unprocessed film? Sure. But you didn't, and it's not the end of the world. You offered to send the film back to her, and she didn't respond. That says to me she isn't that interested after all. If you need to explain yourself, it's probably best that you thought it would be a nice thing to do, to process the film for her, but on second thought you regret doing so. If she can't find it in her heart to forgive you for processing her roll of film for free, and offering to send it back, then I think she's the one that has a problem, and not you.
     
  13. Jim17x

    Jim17x Subscriber

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    I purchased a Baby Rollie 4x4 that had a exposed roll so i decided to process it.. I emailed the seller the images and he was very happy to see the images of himself taken on a hiking trip when he was a much younger man.. You did the correct thing, there was no invasion of privacy..
     
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  15. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I would leave the film unprocessed and contact her about her roll of film. If she doesn't respond, I'd just throw away the film. You're not really obligated to tell her about the film because it's really your property.
     
  16. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I bought cameras with film in them a number of times. I'm "presumptuous and thoughtless" enough that I tossed it. I don't care if the film depicts Sasquatch, I can't be bothered.
     
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    What about Nessie?
     
  18. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I've got a few portraits in 5x4. Not showing anyone though.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you have the opportunity, offer to either return the film unprocessed or, if you are so inclined, offer to develop it for the person and share any results.

    In a lot of cases cameras like this actually belonged to deceased or incapable relatives and sellers are appreciative of the opportunity to discover what is on the film.

    If you get no response to the offer, do what you wish.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    david, just throw the film out. its not worth the trouble.

    t -

    i know what you mean, it's a leap of faith.
    over the years i have bought people subscriptions to apug
    ... i knew they had limited means &c ...

    one of these people tried to have me expelled from the website
    for being nice ...

    go figure.
     
  21. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Very interesting how this ran the full gamut of opinion and quite telling just how differently we all think. I did not 'suffer' from my seeming omission here but I did want to run this by just to see what you would have done. This incident was over a year ago and the film is long gone into the incinerator.

    More than the specific incident is the mindset that runs from 'you did serious wrong' to 'you did nothing wrong'. And I am sure that each can make an honest case as to his/her respective position. I feel no lingering guilt here: my intentions were noble (albeit just a mite curious). In essence, it is no big deal but I would not do that again perhaps.

    Thomas Bertilsson, I think, gave the best overall answer as his covered all ground without polarizing the situation. However, I do thank you all. And, of course, further comments on this ethical question might also shed new light upon our habits as humans. We are revealed not only by our actions but also by our reasons for such. - David Lyga
     
  22. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    If you purchased the camera and the film in it then it is yours to do with what you like.
     
  23. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    I'm also of the opinion that the film was yours, and you were free to do what you wished with it.

    I too bought a camera recently that had an exposed roll of film in it. I contacted the seller and offered to send it to him, but he didn't want it. I plan to develop it.
     
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I think this depends on the situation. If one faces a lot out of an obsolete household with lots of albums, transparency boxes etc. one could deduce that people thought about what they give away and thus lost interest. If it's just a film inside a camera one could deduce that it might have been overlooked.

    But even in the former case, the lot may come from a suddenly deceased person which did not wanted those images to be spread.


    Furthermore in parts of the world there is legislation on publicizing photographs of persons. So even in case one has acquired legally old prints, films, transparencies, you might still not be allowed to do everything you like with those.
     
  25. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    In what way? Anything on the film was put there before you bought it.


    Steve.
     
  26. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    In the US, any one posessing say kiddie porn is in a world of trouble - regardless of how they came into posession of the material.