This weekend Hubby and I went for passport photos. Yikes!
If I was a customs border guard, I wouldn’t trust anybody who looked like that. Clearly, the people in our photos are deranged criminals. That soulless, dead-eyed stare. Those inhumanly expressionless features. God, they give me cold shivers.
Before, whenever I saw mug shots on the news I always wondered why they all looked like criminals. I thought maybe it was self-fulfilling, like the child with the surname ‘Foote’ who grows up to be a podiatrist or the guy named Titzling who invented the bra (okay, that one’s an urban legend, but it makes a good story).
My point is, I thought maybe if you’re born with a face like a mug shot, you pretty well have to grow up to be a criminal.
But now I understand. Criminals don’t actually look any different than the rest of us; it’s just that mug shots are done by passport photographers.
A proper passport photo begins with the right photographer. It’s important to find a photographer with that precise level of sociopathy whereby he can just barely function in normal society without actually committing indictable crimes (though I’m pretty sure our photos qualify as a crime).
The photographer must be incapable of comprehending human emotion. He is not allowed to have a sense of humour, and if he has one, it’s confiscated when he registers as a passport photographer. He is also required to be expressionless and barely civil, ideally replicating the exact blend of arrogance and subtle threat exhibited by border guards. This sets up the correct atmosphere for the photo.
After that, it’s all about technique. The photographer grunts and points imperiously to a small uncomfortable stool, and the victim client perches on it as if awaiting a firing squad.
This is the photographer’s cue to make the victim client as uncomfortable and unattractive as possible:
“Chin up. No, down. No, up! Look over here. Stop smiling.”
You’d think it would be impossible to summon a smile at that point, but I’m pretty sure the only time I’ll not smile is if I’m dead (and even then I wouldn’t bet on it). But, chastened by the photographer’s grumpiness, I try to control my obstreperous lips.
The victim client is now suitably uncomfortable, so the photographer’s next goal is ‘unattractive’:
“Put your hair behind your ears.”
“I never put my hair behind my ears. As far as anybody else knows, I don’t even have ears. This photo won’t look anything like me.”
“Put your hair behind your ears. I have to see your ears.”
So I cram ten pounds of hair behind each ear, making them stick out so far that I look like a bat stalking some hapless insect.
At last I’m cranky enough to eliminate any trace of a smile, and the photographer snaps the picture with his first and only hint of visible satisfaction.
The deed is done and the woman in the photo looks as though, if she hasn’t already committed a crime, she will any minute.
No, I’m not going to post the photo.
Because… ummmm… for security reasons. Yeah, that’s it. It’s not because I’m totally humiliated.
It’s for security.