Above: Image by Gina Milicia
When Rhonda (not her real name) at the passport office took my new passport photo I wasn’t expecting anything high end. I knew the minute she pulled out the point and shoot with the tiny flash and mumbled something about standing on a line that this wasn’t going to be good.
Rhonda was a no-nonsense kind of girl and wasn’t going to waste time on pleasantries like “hello” or “how are you?” If it were up to me, my new passport photo would have been lit with seven big soft lights much like Oprah has, and my focal length of choice would have been 85mm.
In my head I was hoping for Vogue, the reality was more like vague or vagrant.
Rhonda had impeccable timing. She managed to take the image at the exact moment I’d scrunched my face in confusion at her mumbled instructions.
I believe that all the Rhondas of the world who take passport and driver’s licence photos have been carefully trained to make everyone they photograph look as hideous as possible.
There is a very strict code of conduct they must adhere to that guarantees this is the case. If by a miracle someone accidentally gets a good photo taken of them it is immediately destroyed and re-shot.
I’ve carefully studied the Rhondas of the photography industry and have worked out all their tricks and techniques. Want to be the next big thing in passport photography? Follow my step-by-step guide and you too can be a lazy photographer just like Rhonda.
- Never make eye contact. This makes everyone really uncomfortable from the get-go.
- Make everyone you photograph feel like you’d rather be doing something else. It helps to sigh a lot and look bored.
- Speak in mumbled incoherent sentences and get annoyed when nobody understands what you are saying.
- Check your phone frequently and take a call or check your Facebook while you make the model wait.
- Give minimal direction and zero encouragement. Focus on the negatives and ignore any positives.
- When your shoot isn’t going to plan, blame everyone around you, especially the model.
- Always work with very hard lighting, small modifiers and wide lenses.
- Take two frames or 2000, either works just fine as long as you maintain just the right level of indifference.
- Talk about yourself the whole time; be sure to let everyone know how fabulous and interesting you are. Never ask your model any questions about them or show any interest as this takes valuable attention away from you.
- Always shoot the same pose and lighting, never experiment.
- Post-production is for losers. Straight out of the camera is fine.
Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear about any experiences you may have had with Rhonda at the passport office.