Upset at the actions of the photolab

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Lowly, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Lowly

    Lowly Member

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    I couldn't sleep so I've posted this just to get it off my chest.

    I take pictures of my family snaps on transparency film because I don't trust digital for archival purposes - I'm always crashing hard drives, getting viruses and then having to reformat computers. So it's one of my life's pleasures to drop film off and then a week later getting the jewels back. Film also works for me because I'm very protective of my family's privacy, and don't post any pictures of them online.

    So I get a call from the police wanting to discuss a confidential matter. I have no idea why - I've NEVER had to talk to the police. It turns out that a picture I've taken of my kid while running around mooning everyone, which I was going to use to embarrass them when they turned 21, had been of concern to a person at the lab so they had contacted the police about a case of child p*nography! This is a lab that has seen hundreds of pictures of my family over the years, and because of one frame with a bottom in it they call the police.

    So after having multiple visits from the police, who agreed that it looked like a child running around poking their bottom out at everyone as young children are wont to do, no charges would be laid but they would have to file a report on the incident. One of the funny questions was did I have a chance to preview the picture of the film so I had a chance to edit it before giving it to the lab! They couldn't give the picture back, because at a huge enlargement you might be able to see some naughty bits so it would have to be destroyed. My wife wanted to fight that decision thinking it was one of the funniest pictures I had taken, but I just wanted the matter to end and agreed to have the picture destroyed.

    So because someone in "the public" took offense to a picture I took, who so happens to be a photolab that sees the picture before I've even had a chance to look and vet them, I get a visit from the police and the incident is in the system with names of my family even though I'm not guilty of anything. I'm upset and quite frankly disgusted at the judgement of the lab. There's only a few labs left in Australia, and although I can process my own e6 in my Jobo machine, I thought I should support the film labs in Australia. No more!

    What a world we live in, where an innocent moment between family can be so easily intruded upon. I've thought about sending a letter to the lab, but I just want to wipe my hands of them and never ever have any further contact with them.

    Thanks for listening.
     
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  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Unfortunately that is the sad world we live in, yet Sally Mann's photographs are OK.
     
  3. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I'd be quite upset too.

    Similar things had happened in the United States a couple decades ago with revised child-porn laws. Many people had been in the same situation as you. It has relaxed a bit as people have become more rational due to the media coverage of such things, but it took a while before common sense (mostly) prevailed.

    It took a lot of media coverage from outraged consumers before anything happened.
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    This is not new and has been lab policy for as long as I have worked in Labs.

    An exact type of incident happened at a lab I worked at and it is an delicate situation for the family concerned, to say the least.
    I am surprised you did not get a phone call from the Lab owner , before the film was reported, If you had a relationship with them
    I think the owner may have made a mistake in not giving you a call.

    But you also must know that within many Labs, the policy is there and if a technician finds work inappropriate there is this chance of reporting and the lab owner, has to comply.
    This policy btw has been in place for over 30 years and I do not think it is a sign of the times.
    I am speaking of policy within Canada , but I think its pretty global.
     
  5. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Have you got any idea on what legal base this was done? (I have no idea of australian legislation.)
     
  7. Jimbob

    Jimbob Subscriber

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    Ditto on the Sally Mann comment.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    In Canada, it is mandatory to report child abuse if you suspect that it is occurring.

    The complaint, in my mind, is not with the lab, but rather with the final determination.

    On its own, a photo of a naked child isn't conclusive or even good evidence of abuse. In Canada, I would say that the authorities should have made their determination that no abuse was indicated, and then returned the transparency to you.

    The rules in Australia may be unreasonably different.
     
  9. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    OMG... i would not get over this...you should post the name of the company. no joke. This is super upsetting, i myself am not that old, but know where to draw the line, but if you have a roll of family pics, and one of them is of a naked kid running around, obviously, it's just a naked kid running around. If you've never had younger brothers or sisters, or any kids in the family, you might not know, but common sense... etc... i'm just baffled by the sh*t people do, and the need to call authorities, for crap like this, all in the name of 'good'.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's the same here in the UK, sad really but we live in a world with a few sickos who abuse kids or get their kicks looking at images of them.

    Sometimes there's no common sense which isn often lacking these days.

    Ian
     
  11. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    I'm not from this planet. I'm from a planet called earth. I don't know what this one is.
    Seems to me when I was a little one, the first time I showed my fanny for the camera, it would have been white. I'm quite sure had there been a second time, it would be red.
     
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  12. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    If only it were " a few sickos".

    Any experienced mental health or social work professional will know that child abuse is terrifyingly common, and has been for decades and decades, and that the most common situation in which it takes place is within families.

    However, the disgust which (quite rightly) prevails over abuse also leads to these truths not only remaining unacknowledged, but actively (note that I do not imply conspiratorially) suppressed.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It is a few statistically and even fewer who use photography. I may wewll be too many.

    What needs to be taken into account is the the context of an odd family image containing child nudity, which is not the same as intent to make obscene illegal images. The point being innocent people are tared by the deviants if they make images like the OP mentions.

    Ian
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    yup

    around 1996-1997. i used to serve her and her husband coffee.

    good luck with your situation !
     
  16. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I think you should take this story to your paper or a photography magazine at the very least. I almost can't believe that they destroyed the picture and you complied to avoid trouble. This, as Ian mentions, comes down to nothing more than a fundamental lack of common sense and fear - which clearly is beginning to have a massive impact on every aspect of our lives. They destroyed your property, for no rational reason whatsoever. This needs to be fought aggressively, on principle. If we continue to remain complacent about this it will lead to more fear based laws and also, more paranoia about photography and photographers.
     
  17. Lowly

    Lowly Member

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    Thanks for the comments. I feel a bit in a funk at the moment because I work hard and pay my taxes, and the only thing that keeps life interesting is my family and photography, and this incident has hit both.

    The policeman kept repeating in amazement "I didn't know people were still taking film pictures, it's great that you're still doing it". In this day and age, I don't think anyone doing anything illegal would give their film to an external party for development, they'd be using digital. Which just goes to show how absurd the situation was. The police were actually quite apologetic, saying this incident only occurred because a "member of the public" complained.

    It would have been nice to have been contacted by the lab. Unfortunately because there are so few film processors here in Australia the shop I drop them off sends the film interstate to be processed, so I have had no face-to-face contact with the actual lab doing the processing - might have made a difference, who knows. All I know is that because of their judgement, the police had to come to my house, evaluate how I was raising my children (which took all of one second) and write a report that goes into the system, even if it says no laws were broken.
     
  18. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Strange thing is, back in the supposedly puritanical 50's, no one thought much of it. I inherited from my mom slides of me running around naked at the beach at age two, and color prints of my bare butt at age three riding a tricycle naked (my mom made me do that, because it was "cute"). No flak from the processors.
    My main objection is that they demanded destruction of the slide after acknowledging that there was no ill intent in its creation. So what if there are some "naughty bits"? These days, adult's "naughty bits" can hardly be avoided when going to movies, because nudity is now OK, and porn is all over the internet, yet the innocent nudity of a small child in a private family photo is not acceptable. It's a picture of a little child, it's a private family photo by you, the child's parent, and it's your property.
     
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  19. Lowly

    Lowly Member

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    Yes I think if I had a more combative personality I probably should have (like my wife wanted to) but I just want to keep children out of this. I think once it's in the police's hands there was little they could do - my plea I guess was for the labs to show some common sense before calling in the authorities.
     
  20. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I think you should have just let your wife take it on.
     
  21. photopriscilla

    photopriscilla Member

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    I have to say that this is quite alarming! I can only share that when our daughter needed her passport at age 1 we took a picture of her. It was a charming and natural shot. We live in Florida and it is very hot so she didn't have a shirt on in the photo. Since it was only of her head and shoulders we didn't think anything of it! Needless to say we had to submit a photobooth picture in the end, in which she looks miserable.

    It makes me wonder what photos we have of our kids that could be perceived in an unfavorable light!

    So sorry to hear your story!

    Best,

    Priscilla

     
  22. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    Ian, I have worked in this field.
    The idea that "it is few statistically" is simply false.
    I don't understand on what basis it could be argued that "even fewer ... use photography"

    The point being that abuse within families is a significant and horrible problem that has remained untroubled by public attention; most attention is given to the (truly) few (statistically speaking) "strangers" who abuse children, which allows the rest of the population to maintain the fiction that "this doesn't happen in families".

    Fortunately, this is changing, albeit slowly. One effect of that change is situations occur like that of the OP, where someone's judgment rather failed them.

    However, if inconvenience and unpleasantness for someone like the OP is all that has to be suffered, that's fine by me. It proves that people have had their eyes opened.
     
  23. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I think you miss most points, the issue really is what's normal and what's deviant, my take is I have tfriends whom have been abused and photography isn't/wasn't an issue.

    Ian
     
  24. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Just to be fair to the photo lab, are lab required by law to report naked kid photos to authorities?
     
  25. batwister

    batwister Member

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    It proves that we are living in a world in which a fear of the unknown dictates our every move. The photograph was destroyed for fear of what might happen. Yes, our eyes have been opened a great deal since 9/11 and the result is that we want to predict every one in a million threat to our comfortable lives, but we can't.

    At the top of the food chain, with as much material comfort and convenience as our species will ever have, I think we have to make up threats in order that we don't just fall asleep. I think pedophilia has only increased in proportion with the population.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi priscilla

    sorry to hear your troubles
    but unfortunately the passport office
    has specific rules for passport photographs.
    i don't think your image was rejected because it was a topless photograph,
    but because the head was too small ...
    the head has to be a certain size in the image
    no glasses, &c.
    i used to take them once in a while at a portrait studio ( portrait mill )
    and there was a drawing inside the eyepiece that showed where the head
    was supposed to be ..
    for a RA / green card it is even more strict, specific profile ears uncovered and prominently
    displayed in the small 1x1" image ...

    bon voyage !
    john