Friday, 15 July 2011

Passport Photographs

I really want to get away somewhere this summer - somewhere exotic, somewhere lovely, somewhere abroad. In order for there to be any possibility of that happening I need to renew my passport which is about to expire and still in my old pre-wedding name. I also need to apply for a passport for my Boy - another of those jobs I never quite got round to.

I think my husband got fed up of waiting for me to spring into form filling action. He promised to get it all sorted. All I needed to do was provide the passport photographs.

I headed off to Morrisons in the knowledge that they had one of those Passport Photo Booths in their foyer. It took me forever to adjust the seat to the right height, the curtain was most unco-operative in the shutting department and by the time I felt ready to begin, I was sweaty and flustered. Not the ideal frame of mind for the task ahead.

I reluctantly fed my five pound coins into the slot ( £5!!! Really!! You have got to be kidding!!) and followed the instructions. During the countdown before the photograph is taken, I had the most overwhelming urge to twitch - but resisted. As the slow stream of Morrisons customers passed by my little booth on the way to their waiting vehicles with their week's shopping, I sat on my carefully adjusted seat, shoulders back, hair mostly away from my face, trying very hard to achieve a 'neutral expression'.

A screen displayed my four poses and I was invited to select which one I would like printed. The difference between them was barely discernible but one seemed infinitesimally better to me and all told, not too dreadful. I selected it and mentally congratulated myself on getting the job done.

There was a man trying to get people to donate to the Dog's Trust Charity by monthly Direct Debit in the foyer. He tried his luck with me but I told him politely that dog charities were not something close to my heart. As I waited for my photographs to be delivered, I chatted with him about holidays. I'm not sure how long we chatted but it was longer than the time it should take for the photos to spew out from the machine and there was still no sign of them.

Eventually, a Morrisons employee in a crisp regulation uniform came and informed me that the machine should have been displaying an Out of Order Sign because they think it might have run out of paper or something. My heart sank. I was lead to customer services where I was refunded my five pound coins and told to try the Post Office where it was a pound cheaper anyway.

I'd done it once I could do it again.

I walked to the Post Office, battled once more with the adjustable seat and an even less obliging curtain and followed a new set of instructions. This machine had the option for black and white or colour so I selected black and white, vainly thinking it might  be more flattering. Wrong. The camera must have been fitted with a 'Serial Killer' filter because I came out bearing more than a passing resemblance to Moira Hindley.

By now I was past caring and still had the problem of photographing a lively one year old.

I went home and gave the results of my best effort to my husband, silently daring him to laugh or comment negatively in any way.

It was while we were checking  the rules and regulations regarding passport photographs for children that Ivy noticed  Passport Photographs must be in Colour - not Black and White. Curse my moment of misguided vanity.

Back to the drawing board.

In the end, we did what we should have done in the first place. We set my conservatory up as a make shift studio and used my own camera to take the photographs against a plain background. Our local printshop did a great job of cropping them to the exact requirements.

The shot of my son is adorable. I still have a slight air of serial killer but it is vast improvement on the Photo Booth shot. As a bonus, I captured some beautiful shots of my daughter who did not want to be left out and there are even a few quite nice ones of me taken as I relaxed in between 'neutral expression' posing that I might use to update my Facebook profile.

So all's well that ends well - now where are those holiday brochures?


  1. We were stung by a photo booth too. In our case the background was old ie wrong colour. We got as far as sending them off (two kids and OH) only for them to be rejected. Grr.

    Nice shots in the end. :)

  2. Your photos are lovely!

    It's so much easier to do it yourself. I might have to post Baby J's passport photo, done at 3 months, it's so adorable.

  3. I spent £15 getting Squeaky's passport photos done in a booth, due to her not sitting still, in the right place, etc, so I had to do 3 sets before I had good ones. And then a friend told me that the photo studio in town will take them for the same £5 that the booths charge, and they guarantee to get a passport acceptable shot. Ah well, at least I know for 5 years time when all our passports need renewing.

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