2017-10-01 / Family

Get serious — time for your passport photo

By JANINE TALBOT
Columnist

In a few months, it will be necessary to have a valid passport in order to take a flight out of Maine. September was Passport Awareness Month, so I’m apparently a day late in being any help to you at all.

My passport expired last October, which means I need to have a new photo taken in order to get it renewed. If there is one thing (as if there is only one thing) I have an aversion to, it’s photos of myself. I realize social media is all about exposure (in the most G-rated way, of course), and I even had to provide a picture for this column. We won’t discuss the age of that particular image.

Not renewing my passport is not an option. If I want to visit the Love Couple in Atlanta, or my mom and my sister in Kansas, flying is the way to go. I’ll save the many reasons flying scares me for another day.

It’s important to be prepared for a passport photo, since it’s going to follow you around for ten years. I had a vision of losing enough weight before my passport renewal that I looked like a different person compared to my old passport. That didn’t quite work out. Now the vision is about losing enough before I fly in 2018 that TSA is in awe of the difference – but not in enough awe to delay my travel plans.

There are rules about passport photos. You’re not supposed to smile, or for that matter, have any kind of expression. A “neutral expression” is what you should be going for. As a reference for you football fans, just pretend you’re Eli Manning. I haven’t had a neutral expression since birth. Not only that, but the idea of trying to have a serious expression causes me to instead develop a horrible smirk that would be more appropriate for a scene from the movie “It”.

You can have your photo taken somewhere else such as a pharmacy chain and mail in your passport application, or you can find a post office that will take the photo and begin the process for you. If you go to a post office, I would suggest that you don’t go on a Saturday when hours and tempers are short. I tried that and didn’t get anywhere. It was so distressing that had to leave and find comfort in a glazed doughnut.

Be warned that the people who take your passport photo have no sense of humor about anyone’s antics during picture time. It’s like cracking a joke during a yoga class – you may find yourself banned. I’ve come close in the yoga scenario, so it wouldn’t be a far stretch for a postal employee to display my photo as an example of what not to do.

It amazes me that our two daughters take great pictures under any circumstances, even on their passport photos. There must be a photogenic gene buried somewhere in our family because they didn’t get it from either of us. Spouse’s photos, especially when serious, resemble a combination of hitman and Chuck Norris… which is sort of another hitman, I guess. My photos almost always leave me looking disheveled and in dire need of a haircut – even if I just had one the day before.

Since it is now October, I’d better get on the ball and stop avoiding that passport photo if I want to spend time with family next year. If you happen to be doing the same, just ignore my scary “It” smirk. It only happens when I’m having a serious photo taken … and when I’m doing yoga.

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