My passport photo doesn’t know. She is sweet and cheerful and excited about Europe. Not badly advised, I went to have my picture taken after a HIIT class. I dove into mascara and eyeliner in my car, which I had parked in a primo spot in front of Whole Foods. I remember having the impression of traveling: a moving woman, a mobile genius. And the training class had given my face a beautiful glow, or at least that’s what the endorphins raging in my brain told me.
The rest of my brain cells were focused on a famous passport photo I had seen years ago of Prince with a smirk that looked like he had just invented a new language – and would never teach you. . His face was attentive, suspicious and above all shiny. I had to get that image out of my mind because, in general, the wisdom of taking passport photos means avoiding any shiny makeup, which can refract light badly. And I don’t have Prince’s photo editing team at my disposal. But, as a tribute to the icon, I decided that the hair, my only asset in this world, would be wrapped nicely around my head.
When the photo was taken I was concerned about a lasting tip on ID photos that came in handy: if the photo frame is small, the model (in this case me) should point her chin. forward to lengthen the neck. But I think because I was mostly thinking of Prince, my expression turned out to be very stress-free.
For a year, my passport wallowed in the bottom of my underwear drawer. What had seemed so important and crucial – access to the world – has become an official document of stagnation. But when I smelled her slippery, faux-leather surface as I searched for a particular pair of underwear, I pulled it up to look at my photo wistfully. My face was full of worldly sophistication with shining eyes. I was glamed-up in the traditional passport photo staging area, an emporium famous for its soft, flattering, and warm lighting: the local CVS.
Next to the passport is a small cardboard case containing the additional two inch by two inch copies of the photo CVS had generously given me. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but I just decided that the friends I planned to visit last year will each receive a token from me for their wallets, minimal context provided. I know that’s just what they missed.
Get the shot
No, not that one. (But, yeah, get that one too!) The one you send to the government to be listed in your travel documents for the next 10 years. The ideal passport photo should clearly represent a person. Why wouldn’t he represent them so beautifully? See the guide below for more details.
1. Pull it back
This is what hairstylist David Lopez calls a “look forever”: a tight ponytail that “lines up with your cheekbones and crown”. Keep in mind that if you are wearing your hair down, you may need to expose your ears for the photo. (The United States prefers to see them.)