Face up. Chin down.
Wait, what? Isn't my chin a part of my face?
Basically, that's how paradoxical are the instructions we get while taking a passport photo at the studio. You hardly hear people say they are 100 percent happy with their passport photo and let's face it, the blinding lights turn us into 'deer in the headlights' and holding that 'no smile, no pout' neutral expression makes us look like zombies.
You think of yourself as reasonably smart and presentable but then you open your passport and there it is: a blast from the past staring back at you. Maybe you were just suffering from a disastrous haircut when that picture was taken. Perhaps the Emo look seemed like the best thing ever at the time. Maybe you were at the peak of your facial hair experimentation period. Now it's an image that makes your classmates or co-workers chuckle because passport photos are also used in identity cards for educational institutes or workplaces and I'm sure not many of you are proud of the photo that hangs from the neck with a blue/black ribbon.
Your passport and ID cards are quintessential to your existence and honestly, it does hurt not to look decent on those. You might have a case of double chin or eyeballs bugging out badly. You could also have a wild gaze in the photo like that of a serial killer due to the blinding flash. One of my classmates pointed out that my face looks incredibly round in my ID photo, as if it has been rolled on with a rolling pin and turned into a full circle. Maybe that's why people say that showing their passport photo to a friend or colleague would be more uncomfortable than tripping over in public, spilling ketchup on a white shirt or declaring that they like Bieber.
The worst case scenario could be when your passport photo forces the authorities to do a double-take at the airport or your potential employer eyes you suspiciously because you don't resemble your identity photo any more. Maybe the photo had been taken quite some time back and your appearance has changed significantly since then. Perhaps the photo shows a mass of curls surrounding your face and now you have very short hair or you have lost a lot of weight or gained some. But don't worry about that too much since everyday things like growing a beard or colouring your hair are not considered a substantial change in the government's eyes. Officials who deal with passports are trained to focus on basic facial features so a new hairstyle wouldn't cause trouble.
In case you're planning to take a photo in the near future and want to avoid looking miserable in your important documents, here are a few points you could keep in mind. Devote a bit of time to your appearance before you step into the photo booth. Comb your hair, check your teeth and clothing for any indications of your last meal and make sure you are wearing a solid colour that contrasts with the pale studio background. For girls, hair can be kept down but off the face and loose ponytails or buns are also okay. For boys, a clean shave and neat collars would be apt.
So, here we go. Say CHEESE. Okay, don't.