Priceless lab tech moments.
1) Clearing a paper jam in the blix rack only to have the rack slip out of your hand and contaminate the developer.
2) "Do I have to use matte film for matte prints?"
3)(at a consumer lab) "Why can't you print this, It's just negatives?"...disc film.
4) Customer coming in with a roll of film entirely pulled from the cassette, wondering if we can "save" it for them.
5) How can you call yourselves a one hour photo if you can't process all these rolls in an hour? Our print processor, if put into full auto mode using 6" wide paper can do 18 rolls an hour....not a shopping bag full of film.
There was the roll of film I had a few weeks ago at my 1-hour job that was covered in a weird, oily substance. No way we were going to run it through, and another tech pulled it out in the light just to show the customer. Especially strange was that the whole roll was oily, but the emulsion was not sticking to the base when it rolled together. They never told us what it was, nor how it got in the film canister and all through the roll. Perhaps they dropped it in a cold deep-fryer?
Then there was the lady who wanted us to digitally decrease the size of her butt in a treasured photo. We re-did it for her three times, to the point where there the photo was very obviously altered but she refused to believe that the photo was an accurate depiction of the size of her rump. Ma'am, if you read this, your ass really is that big! Accept it, and move on.
Every once in a while we get someone who wants a rectangular print from a square negative and wonders why we cut the feet off. My answer? "We thought you'd rather lose the feet than the head." (more politely put, of course.)
Of course, as Bob noted lab techs are not immune to mistakes or pure stupidity either. One time we received a roll to be printed as 3.5x5 and my colleague didn't read the 3. and printed the whole roll as 5x5. Or the time I opened a nearly 400 foot long roll of 6" Fuji CA paper in room light, and took a good 30 seconds to figure out why the paper was blue, or visible at all.
"You were holding the entire press run for that shot????"
Best summer job I ever had - darkroom technician at the Vancouver Sun newspaper during the late '70s - front page (main art!) photo space left open for photo of Ferdinand Marcos arriving at Vancouver airport - and all the photos were either out of focus or he was partially obscured!
P.S. they weren't my shots!
they weren't my shots!
Yeah, yeah...that's what they all say!
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
Your lab mixed up my photos with someone elses. Ok, that sometimes happens. Let's fill out a tracer, sez I.
No need. They mixed them up with my mother's pictures.
Golly, what a coincidence.
Yes; and they did it in the middle of the roll too. I got some of her Hawaii pictures, and she got some of mine.
Hmm. Were you on vacation together, queries myself?
Of course, says customer.
What kind of camera does your mother have?
A Nikon, exactly like mine........
John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
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LOL! That's my job day in and day out!!! The stories I could tell, right Justin! I do work in a one hour photo lab and sometimes I just shake my head. I just hate it when I get all these redos because the colour doesn't match their original prints that the customer did not provide. I guess I'm supposed to read their mind on what the colour is supposed to be. I love it when they say,"It's not the right colour!" and I say "What colour do you want it to be. Blue, green, yellow or pink?"
Pick a colour, any colour.
I'm at my favorite lab and they sheepishly tell me that my roll went into the machine but failed to come out. Days later it reappears, perfectly processed, without so much as a scratch. The tech insists it has been in the machine the entire time.
There was also my "Noritsu Crazy Glue Repair". We had a paper jam repeatedly occur in the same area of the Noritsu printer due to one part of an elevator-type part not staying level during its travel up and down. While trying to figure out what was causing the lopsidedness I pushed the rack in a little too hard in the wrong place and break a plastic bit off the 'elevator'. I call Noritsu tech support to describe the issue, and it turns out the 'elevator' bit needs to be replaced anyways but that plastic bit is actually quite important. We have print orders piling up and need to get the printer working ASAP so the Noritsu tech says that until they can get a repair technician out with the part in a day or two I should just try crazy gluing the plastic bit back on. A quick run to the hardware aisle, come back to glue the piece in place then give it 30min to make sure the glue sets. It works! Lord only knows how expensive the machine is, but it is now working (at least temporarily, and temperamentally) thanks to a bit of crazy glue.
Originally Posted by BWKate
One time I was filling in for someone at the order counter and a lady comes in to pick up her order. We use phone numbers to search because there tend to be fewer mix-ups than when using names so I ask the lady for hers. I search the phone number and it brings up an account under the name of "Wong", or a similar name. The lady is middle aged and has the appearance of an archetypal WASP so I say, "I'm sorry ma'am, can you please repeat your phone number? I don't think Wong is the right name!" With a very stern face she replies, "No, that's correct." I felt like I just about died of embarrassment and am sure that my face was bright red! Definitely learned a few things about assumptions right then and there.
One positive anecdote was the time when a fellow brought in a portrait of his sister looking for advice on matting and framing. It was a very unusual portrait, full body with a low camera position looking up at her face. Beautifully lit and printed, too. Considering that it was signed something to the effect of, "Karsh, Ottawa" we suggested that he go to one of the local art framing shops, rather than a drug store!
I remember once dealing with a posh client at the lab I used to work for. He told me exactly what he wanted, just as he had been told by the photographer who had taken the shots of him. I had to admit I did not know what a CPA process was and suggested if he wanted a brown tone I should use some Thio. He spelt it out to remind me how stupid I was. C! P! A! No, he didn't know what it stood for but that was what he wanted. Then it clicked as I once again translated his plummy tones. 'Oh you mean Sepia?' I asked.
I think my favorite was a customer who came in with pictures of Disney world.....followed by daddy having his way with little jimmy. Obviously we called the police, the children were taken away, but the family attempted to file a suit on the basis that we invaded their privacy by looking at their photos.