Strange-But-True Tales from the 1 Hour Photo

And, yes, they are going to see what develops

Words by Sylvia Dean | Illustrations by Ali LaPore

In the age of the iPhone, those One-Hour Photo huts and their ilk have become a dying breed, but what have the employees—often minimum-wagers, retirees and teenagers doing their algebra homework in between taking peeks at the negatives while you wait—witnessed? The now-nostalgic stop-and-drop (and pick up 60 minutes later) probably has made for quite a few interesting stories over the years. In case you’ve ever wondered if the employees are going to look at the photos, as it turns out, yes they do. Here’s what they saw.

What happens behind the counter at the 1 Hour Photo stays in Whalebone’s Photo Issue

The Wild Bunch

Picture, if you will, a repeat customer who comes in every week with a new roll of film with different animals on it. Were they running an underground zoo? The photoshoots became increasingly elaborate, culminating in a trip back to the Old West with a gang of lizards dressed like they were straight out of a spaghetti western. One question, where did they get the tiny cowboy hats?

Ride On

Picture a funeral, lots of people wearing black, but probably not how you might expect. These are bikers. So a lot of black leather, yes. Your average funeral, no. The live-to-ride bunch does death differently, too. What developed were group photos of the whole gang taking shots with the deceased. The props of choice were numerous bottles of Jack Daniel’s and beer. Cheers.

Santa Clause is Coming to Town

Picture, if you will, a rather ritzy hotel room. What developed while one employee looked on was a photo of an 80-year-old couple in said room. The woman wearing only a Santa hat, while her partner, showing surprising agility for an octogenarian, swung from the chandelier whilst fully nude. Suffice to say, they got quite the Christmas card photo.

Bad Bunny

Picture your typical Easter Sunday. Small children thrilled to see over-stuffed Easter baskets. Smiles growing bigger as they dig into them. Smiles turning to tears as they find broccoli tucked away inside plastic eggs instead of goodies from the Bunny.

Til Death Do Us Part

Picture a typical wedding. Now picture a pretty typical funeral. Now imagine the photographer had the same roll of film in for both. Yep. Double exposures can make for some quite odd collages in the most mundane of circumstance. That goes triple here.

There’s Always Room

Picture a great deal of JELL-O. Like more than that. Not everyone is a fan. People either love it or hate it. The woman who dropped off this particular roll of film really loved it. So much that she was taking a relaxing bath in her front yard. Completely nude and instead of filling the tub with water, it was filled with JELL-O. Not to mention she lived in a suburban neighborhood, with confused neighbors looking on in these JELL-O shots.