Of Passports and Pictures #InkMagic



The first time I was dragged went to have my passport picture taken was just after my mid-term Math exam, straight from school. Two liberally oiled plaits hung on either side of a face that showed proof of just how the Math exam had gone.

The studio photographer, a family favourite, was an old man with a camera probably older than him. He asked me to look ‘at a point above his head’, not smile and think of something pleasant. Since the recent exam, and it’s after effects, were the only thing on my mind and I saw a lizard pausing and looking right at me from ‘the point above his head’ the passport picture that we collected later that evening looked like a cross between a scream and a grimace. Every immigration officer who stamped my passport after that asked me if I was feeling better now.

A few years later when I needed to renew my passport I vowed that I would rectify the  disastrous pic gaffe. Freshly shampooed hair and a different studio and a photographer who seemed to know what he was doing.  No surprises that he was such a perfectionist that he shot out instructions like ‘Smile!’, or ‘Tilt your head!’, or ‘Don’t smile so wide!’ and the likes so many times that the end result was a pic in which I looked like I was smiling with a gun held to my head. A painful and terrified smile, to be honest. No questions from immigration officers this time, except a chuckle as they looked from my picture to me.

Third time is the charm I told myself and I was sure of getting it right this time. I scouted around for the best photo studio in the area, applied a Face pack on my face every day for a week, practiced smiling and flattering angles in the mirror and arrived fully prepared on D-day, oopps photo- day. A perfect shot was taken which was so good that I thought I just might get film offers if it was spotted in the studios. After I approved the picture on the photographer’s camera I was asked to collect my pictures in an hour’s time, and I walked out of the studio jauntily. When I came back after an hour I found a small bunch of people crowding the studio. Movie offers already I smiled, with a trace of arrogance, to myself. Only to find out that due to a ‘small technical snag the camera had short circuited doing so to the computer too and all photographs taken in the last 2 hours were lost’ They refunded our money and asked us to come later to get our photographs taken once more.

I did and all I’ll say is that my passport pictures are proof of the famous saying ‘If you look like your passport photograph, you need the vacation!’





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