Monday, August 3, 2009

Passport Pictures are Just Bad

If you've never been in trouble with the law and haven't had the opportunity to get a "mugshot", the next best thing is the passport photo.

"Don't smile," the photographer almost invariably reminds you as they valiantly try to get a shot that is suitably sized and dreary enough to meet passport regulations. I've always thought that direction should be followed by, "don't grit your teeth" for invariably I always do. Is it possible to identify the animated person standing in an immigration checkpoint from that stilted, tight lipped picture on the passport?

One thing I have learned over the years is that when getting that dreaded snap - not to even attempt that second or even third retake. Why disappoint myself? I prefer to look like an escapee from a high risk security penitentiary in the first go around.

So, in a military dictatorship, in a country where I was particularly leery of the immigration process, I handed over my passport, bad photo and all, and waited. The immigration officer flipped through the pages, looked at the picture, looked again. And then he looked up at me and smiled broadly, "Must have been a bad day." He chuckled and stamped the book and that was that.

Apparently vintage photography had some of the same
issues as the passport venue!

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