On passport photos

Today started with a bang: an eye appointment (new super-cute glasses arriving soon!) and taking care of my passport so that I can jet off to England and France in May.  Fortunately, the eye appointment, post office, and passport picture-taking place are all right next door to each other–talk about one-stop shopping!  Unfortunately, this did not save me from the trauma of actually having my passport photo taken in the first place.

I hate having my picture taken at the best of times.  After walking a mile with a winter hat on and before I’ve had my cup of coffee–not the best of times.  On top of that, it’s a grayish-whitish background.  I’m so pale that I feel translucent most of the time, so I sort of just blended in (ooh, camouflage–I’m like a chameleon that doesn’t actually change in response to other backgrounds, just the pale, washed-out ones).  Then there’s the no smiling rule.  The woman taking my picture said it had to do with making sure your face didn’t look “uneven,” but I think it’s because the federal government has no sense of humor (or perhaps they do and they think it’s incredibly funny to send their citizens out into the wider world looking like grumpy convicts).  On top of that: no glasses.  Which is fine, usually, but I have very large eyes.  I generally consider them to be my best feature under normal circumstances.  But combined with the lack of smile, the washed-out background and so on, the end result was something more along the lines of a camouflaged, grumpy deer caught in the headlights.  Seriously, I look terrified and cranky at the same time…no mean feat, that.

I also had to have my hair tucked behind my ears.  I’m trying to come up with the rationale on that one.  Is is so that when I commit a crime in a foreign country and I manage to lop my ear off in the process, they have something to compare it to?  What I love even more than all of this is that I had to pay to look this bad.  Ah well, it doesn’t matter in the long run, because I will have a passport (eventually), and I will go to England and France, and for the next ten years, I will laugh every time I look at the picture.  $100 for ten years of laughter isn’t so bad…


6 responses to this post.

  1. They don’t allow smiles anymore?!? I had to get a new one a couple of years ago, and I don’t think that was a rule then. Weird! (I still turned out weird looking…I wish you could get your photo changed every couple of years or something) I’m not really photogenic to begin with (so I totally sympathise with you), and official photos seem to bring out the worst in me. The big exception is my driver’s license-I scheduled a hair appointment right before going to get it taken, and that seemed to work!

    I’m so jealous of your France/England trip. 🙂


  2. Ooh, travel! I wanna go, I wanna go!


  3. This made me giggle because I had a horrid photo taken at the DMV for my new license this morning. The licensing woman was too busy talking to tell me where to look and when, so I’m sort of shiftily looking off to the right with a half-grin on my face. I look criminal and somewhat mentally deficient. Good times! 8 years til my next renewal!


  4. I don’t think Richard Avedon could’ve taken a good picture of me. I sympathize!


  5. Oh, I despise having my picture taken, which is the #1 reason my passport has expired and hasn’t been renewed. And now that you describe all these new restrictions (and also, I’m sure I’m paler than you. NOBODY is as pale as I am), I’m even less inclined. However, I want to do things like visit my friend in Northern Ireland, so it’s going to have to happen one of these days. At least I’ve been forewarned and now know I’ll be looking like a sullen, big-eared ghost to all passport inspectors for the next ten years or so (can I turn that into fodder for a story?).


  6. Eva: my driver’s license is awful as well–first of all, they screwed up the first time so I had to go back and have it taken again–and they took it at this really weird angle, and it’s bleached out. I look like a red blob with red hair…quite stylin’!

    Sisyphus: I am soooo excited to travel! The idea of England and France is what’s getting me through right now.

    Andi: I completely commiserate. Our college took pictures of us when we arrived on campus our freshman year…the good photos ended up on our IDs, and the bad photos ended up on a poster board in the library for all to see when we graduated. I managed to be looking up, so I’m cross-eyed. Yeah, good times.

    LK: I hear you on that one! I tend to run in the opposite direction whenever I see a camera nearby (and my dad was a professional photographer!). 🙂

    Emily: The restrictions seem rather silly, but they’re good for a laugh. Although, it is REALLY hard to not smile for a picture. I think that’s why my eyes look so buggy–I was trying too hard to keep a serious look on my face. I’m just hoping they let me into foreign countries once they see that passport photo!


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