It’s a passport photo, not a Henri Cartier Bresson portrait


Do we go care so much about our passport photographs? It’s not as if we expect to go on a date with a Custom’s Officer? A dear late friend of mine was a wildly successful manager of Rock and Pop Stars. He got a call one day from a world famous client who was performing at Wembley and due to fly out and perform three days later at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. His passport had expired so my friend went to his London home, picked up the passport and went to Petit France (where passports were renewed in those days) and due to the fame of his client managed to get a new passport. Two days later he got a furious call from his famous client saying he would not be going to Berlin as he hated the photo his agent had selected in the new passport. He refused to use that passport and had it incinerated. Concert was postponed! And no, I am not saying who this was! In our new COVID world you can renew a passport online with an I-phone photo. Let me just say my wife was extremely upset at the photo I took of her recently for her new passport. “Darling, you are an eternal beauty. But it’s flat lighting, a head on shot against a white background, blank expression, hair pulled back... so the odd wrinkle might show.” She was still not happy. “The only person ever to see it will be an overweight Immigration officer with halitosis that could strip paint and a probably unhealthy desire to give you an “internal” search. My recommendation is to look as appealing as roast pangolin served by a waiter with a cough.” That worked.

...and another thing

The problem in being famous from youth, is there are photographs of every stage of ageing until you end up with a face that looks like a cake left out in the rain. There is a video of photographs of both Prince Charles and the Queen going from a toddler through ageing gracefully to their current wrinkled magnificence. Strangely there is also one of Raquel Welsh and the late Regis Philbin who both have the same face all the time.

With the disappearance of photos albums us mortals rarely see photos of ourselves getting older… unless you dig out your passports.


...and another thing

Of course in Europe we have the option of using a resident’s ID when travelling within several EU countries (Schengen countries). I am in the weird position of having a U.K. Passport that I now have to go through the alien lane travelling in Europe but also a  Malta ID that lets me travel within Schengen without any passport at all.

So straighten up, put on the slap as much as you can and remember do not smile on your passport photo nor wear any headgear… though of course you can wear religious headgear such as a Turban or hijab. I must say if I was a Native American I’d be tempted to wear a full feather headdress!

Stay safe.

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  1. Peter says:

    A very timely blog for myself since I have just been considering what to do about my passport. It expires at the end of this year but on investigation I have discovered that if I wish to retain the maroon European colour I have to be quick since they will no longer be available after February. I will then be lumbered with the British blue which I absolutely do not want and I suspect has a picture of Nigel Farage somewhere in it and probably when you open it it plays Rule Britannia !! So thank you for your reminder and I will be getting my beloved wife to take a picture within the next couple of days.

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