Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Upon having her snapshots developed, a traveler discovers her camera has been used to take risqué photos.
Origins: According to our earliest sighting, this story about pranksters embedding risque photos in the cameras of innocents has been with us since 1945. Though the veracity of either account quoted in our Examples section can't be vouched for, the proclivity of folks' inserting their own funny snapshots into whichever cameras they find lying about certainly
The urge to create a little photographic mayhem runs so deep that it has caused some newlyweds to have reason to regret their having distributed disposable cameras among the guests at their wedding reception. Though they might have hoped for candid shots that could supplement the more formal collection being prepared by the event's photographer, what they received instead achieved uncomfortable levels of candor. Naive dreams of spontaneous pix of the glowing bride dancing with her besotted groom were dashed by the reality of closeups of someone's genitals.
Although the earlier versions of the story are presented as harmless practical joke-type incidents, the following telling from 2004 reveals a darker side:
My friend told me that this happened to a friend of a friend (of course). She decided to hike the Appalachian Trail alone. She traveled the entire length of the trail and took seven rolls of film with her. She camped in the woods along the way.This account of a stalked hiker changes what was a legend about lighthearted frolic into one of lurking menace. The terror inherent to this tale of being photographed in the woods is the same as that which fuels the venerable "Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn On the Light?"
When she returned home, she took her film to get it developed. When she picked up the film, there were pictures on five of those rolls of her sleeping.
Though the story of the hunted hiker is more folklore than fact (would anyone night after night sleep through having her campsite invaded or the repeated flash of the camera?), in 2004 there was an instance of disturbing photographs' being discovered among those taken by a group of cheerleaders who had stayed at the Broker Inn, a hotel near the site of a cheerleading camp they'd been attending in Boulder, Colorado. The photos developed from four of the girls' cameras contained snapshots of a nude man making use of their rooms while they were off learning new cheers. (The girls left their cameras at the hotel at various times during their stay.) The man, who had been careful to keep his face hidden, was pictured moving about their rooms, placing his genitals on their personal items, including makeup bags and Gatorade bottles.
While disquieting, this real-life experience of the cheerleaders in Colorado is not on par with the legend about a stalked hiker. Though the teens were subjected to some rather nasty views of a man violating their private space, they themselves weren't present when the mayhem was going on and so were not at risk. Their experience more closely fits the two items quoted in our examples section of the unsuspecting finding nudie shots of strangers mixed in among their holiday snaps. It also fits at least one of the key elements of the "toothbrush"
Barbara "private disaccommodation" Mikkelson
Last updated: 12 March 2006
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