14 September 2007

The anti-photographer

I straightened my hair, checked my appearance for strange abnormalities, and more or less satisfied, settled into the plastic stool. The photographer positioned me and then himself behind the camera. "Ready? One...two...Oh, no, you can't smile!"

The alluring half smile I had formed froze, and my brow wrinkled as I looked at him. Was this some sort of twisted flirting game? "Why not?"

"Well, if it's for your passport, you're not allowed to smile anymore."

My jaw dropped.

"Well, look at the poster on the wall. It gives all the details as to how your face must look if it's going to be considered a legitimate photo."

I glanced over and was disturbed by the site of a somber looking baby. "Geez, how do you get a baby to look like that?" I wondered out loud.

"It took 45 minutes," he responded tartly. The photographer was getting antsy, wanting to get the job over with.

I complied, paid for my mean-looking pictures, then got home and did some research. This is old news - two years old, apparently. Plus I just found out the pictures can't be more than a month old. And I was planning ahead. By about two years.

I think I just threw 8.95 down the drain. But that's not even the worst part: The real tragedy is that we've turned passport photographers into a miserable, morbid bunch. They used to say funny things to illicit a laugh; dance a silly dance to make a child giggle. Now they gruffly order their customers to remain somber. They are, in essence, anti-photographers.

The world may (or may not) be a safer place, but it sure is more grouchy with somber ID photos.

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