A photographer’s nightmare *graphic content*


I know you might be screaming in terror now, but I did warn you of the graphic content. If you know a thing or two about film, the picture says it all.

But for those who don’t, let me fill you in. You are looking at fifty images, shot for two hours today with exceptional lighting and a great model. Or you would be, if the developing hadn’t gone wrong.

I can’t tell you how painful it is as a photographer to see [or not see] work wiped clean from these damned plastic strips. To be fair, I only lost twenty-four images, the other twenty-four were my fiance’s, shot on very expensive modified 35mm cinematic film. I spent around an hour warming the chemicals to exactly 102 degrees. My fiance loaded the spools in a pitch-black closet, and I proceeded to soak the film for one minute in 110 degree water. Three minutes developer, six and a half blix, three minute rinse, and stabili….wait. What the fuck. I pulled out the spools and there they were. Two very not-developed pieces of plastic. I yelled “OH MY GOD” and P came running, knowing that I had been working on the film.

“What happened?!”

“I don’t know!!! LOOK.”


He falls to his knees and grabs the film.

“I did everything right! I don’t know what happened….was the closet pitch black?”

But alas, the closet WAS pitch black. And even if it weren’t, we wouldn’t have the completely clear and spotless film shown above. The writing along the sprockets didn’t even show up on either. So that narrowed it down to two things.

Did I put the fixer in before the developer? Our bottle are kind of poorly labeled, but it’s hard to mistake the smell of blix. I would have smelled it as soon as I opened the bottle, no way I would’ve poured that in first. On top of that, I remember checking the writing on the cap, and I only leave one cap off at a time so the bottles don’t get confused. So we have one problem left:

The developer.

We grabbed the film leader out of the trash can and poured some of the developer in a cup. As we poured, we noticed that it smelled more sulfuric than usual, and was extremely dark. Not good. We dropped the leader in and….nothing. It should have turned black. To be sure the caps didn’t get switched, I cut the leader off another roll and dropped it in the blix. Nope, it was blix for sure. So our developer had died on us very suddenly. It actually happened to a previous roll Pedro had shot, but he also soaked the film in drano before shooting, so we figured that the drano killed it.

I was so devastated- still am. I put a lot of work into that shoot and had been especially excited about shooting in color. And I feel soooo bad for P because he was very excited about that film. And the shots he had would have been amazing. Now we have to tell our model, and we’re even less prepared for our gallery show coming up in three weeks.

I keep trying to be positive about it. I mean, it could have been a more important shoot and this shoot can be recreated. And I do have a roll of B&W left. So all is not lost. Nonetheless, I will lament the loss of the images, the erased moment, and the wasted time.


3 responses to “A photographer’s nightmare *graphic content*

  1. Oh man I hate when that happens. It happened to me too. With time thought we can only work smarter. I had my share of blank rolls with legit to stupid reasons.


    • Yeah. This was my first real ‘blank’ roll. I mean, I’ve done stupid things before like opening the film gate while my camera is loaded, or accidentally freezing negatives that weren’t dry [still getting used to Michigan, obviously]. But this was a costly one ;_; maybe next time I’ll always use the leader to test the developer. C-41 is so damn finicky.


      • C41 is finicky and, expensive! In comparison to black and white chemical. Shot a wedding with tri x the other day and I got lucky. Although I did many precautionary checks.


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