A Selfie For Your Passport Photo?

Jun 4 2014, 5:16pm CDT | by

Among the many best-selling books by Erma Bombeck, the American humorist and newspaper columnist who died in 1996, is one titled, “When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home .” This collection of essays, about the highs and lows of independent travel, will be a familiar subject to anyone who’s been there, done that. But it’s the title that really tickles my funny bone, and that I often think of when crossing foreign borders.

Invariably, I’m jetlagged, rumpled after a long overnight flight and disoriented as I wheel my carry-on luggage through customs and immigration at some foreign airport. Uniformed officials who seem trained to look unfriendly are loudly stamping passports, conversing in an only vaguely familiar — or totally unfamiliar — language. When my turn comes up, the immigration officer opens my passport and does a double take. That look needs no translation. The thought balloon clearly says, “Is that really YOU?”

I lived overseas as a young child and have had itchy feet practically since I learned to walk, so I have a collection of cancelled passports charting my life’s journeys . They are also irrefutable evidence of how awful it is possible to look in a passport photo. Over the years I have gone from wide-eyed child, to awkward teenager, and evolved gradually into a self-assured adult. I seem to have given up barrettes and other methods of trying to tame my curly hair. But the one thing these pictures have in common is that they do not look like anyone I would have ever wanted to resemble.

More on Forbes: How To Visit Switzerland Without Breaking The Bank

Under current rules, passports come up for renewal every 10 years. Not surprisingly I approach these anniversaries – if you can call them that  – with a sense of hope and doom: Hope that this time I will finally crack the code for having a decent (if not absolutely glamorous) passport photo; and doom because deep in my heart I just know that the past is prologue.

Still, with my passport expiration date rapidly approaching, I thought I had finally come up with a way to beat the odds. After a recent haircut, and with my curls professionally arranged in what might be called a state of stylish disarray, I went directly to the nearest Walgreens and plunked down $11.99 to have my passport photo taken (this price covers two prints). Digital photography prices seem to have declined since the last time I had my passport photo taken, with no decrease in the quality of the picture. That is to say, the photo was as bad as ever.

More on Forbes: How To Get The Best Hotel Deals

Resigned to travel for the next decade with this image, I signed on to the State Department website to complete the rest of the passport renewal process . Only then did I discover an alternative to the usual passport photo: I could have used a selfie.

“While we recommend you use a professional passport photo service to ensure your photo meets all the requirements, you may take the photo yourself,” the website says. Though it indicates that “Hand-held self portraits are not acceptable ,” there is nothing there that would preclude my using a digital camera or even the Camera+ app on my iPhone or iPad, set up on a tripod or secure surface, to take my own passport photo. In fact, the State Department website, which I think of as a source of help for emergencies overseas, and information about travel alerts and warnings, includes a “Photographer’s Guide ,” with some really swell, consumer-friendly tips for lighting and camera position when taking your own passport photo.

This was a bit more effort than I wanted to devote to the task this time. But it’s certainly something to consider 10 years from now when my newly-issued passport expires. Between now and then I can get plenty of practice.

Archive of Forbes Articles By Deborah Jacobs

Deborah L. Jacobs , a lawyer and journalist, is the author of Estate Planning Smarts: A Practical, User-Friendly, Action-Oriented Guide, now available in the third edition.

10 Tips For Traveling Light

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Review: Finally, A Rival For The iPad
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Review: Finally, A Rival For The iPad
I’ve used a lot of Android tablets over the years since Samsung first introduced the Galaxy Tab. And the first one I ever owned was the first generation Tab, with 3G. Even then, I thought it was a pretty good device,...
 
 
Android Circuit: Is Amazon's Fire Phone A Lemon? Does Xiaomi's Mi 4 Look Like An Apple? Is Samsung's Tab S 8.4 A Winner?
Android Circuit: Is Amazon's Fire Phone A Lemon? Does Xiaomi's Mi 4 Look Like An Apple? Is Samsung's Tab S 8.4 A Winner?
Taking a look back at the week in news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories, including the first reviews of Amazon’s Fire phone, the launch of the Xiaomi Mi 4, the UK...
 
 
Global film industry gender-biased: Study
London, July 26 (IANS) A study has revealed that only 22 percent of the crew involved in making 2,000 of the biggest grossing films worldwide over the past 20 years were women.
 
 
Apple Confesses about the Potentiality of Extracting of Significant User Data fr
Apple Confesses about the Potentiality of Extracting of Significant User Data from iPhone
The iPhone includes such a backdoor feature that allows others to obtain significant user data
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Gaza toll rises to over 1000
Gaza, July 26 (IANS) The toll in the 19-day Israeli offensive has climbed to 1,030, with the bodies of at least 130 more Palestinians being recovered from rubble across the Gaza Strip, officials said Saturday. Ashraf...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indian women's hockey team ready for New Zealand test
Glasgow, July 26 (IANS) After a comfortable 4-2 win over Canada in their opener, the Indian women's hockey team will take on a higher ranked New Zealand in Pool A of the Commonwealth Games here Sunday. Star of the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Steven Seagal a 'real' action hero
Steven Seagal insists he is a ''real'' action hero. The burly actor - who forged his reputation in popular movies like 'Above the Law' and 'Under Siege' - explained that he does many of the action scenes that his peers...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
US closes embassy in Libya, evacuates staff
Washington, July 26 (IANS) The United States closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated the staffers to neighbouring Tunisia amid security concerns in the restive north African country, the State Department said...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Apurvi wins women's 10m air rifle gold, Ayonika silver
Glasgow, July 26 (IANS) Indian shooters Apurvi Chandela and Ayonika Paul won the gold and silver medals respectively in the women's 10-metre air rifle final of the Commonwealth Games here Saturday. Malaysia's Nur...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Mangaonkar enters men's squash quarters
Glasgow, July 26 (IANS) Indian squash player Mahesh Mangaonkar entered the men's classic plate quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games by defeating Welsh Peter Creed 3-0 at the Scotstoun Sports Campus here Saturday....
Read more on Sport Balla
 
India disappoint in women's fours lawn bowls
Glasgow, July 26 (IANS) India were knocked out of the women's fours lawn bowls of the 2014 Commonwealth Games after the team finished fourth in section B losing their last group match to Northern Ireland at the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Rahi, Anisa enter women's 25m pistol semis
Glasgow, July 26 (IANS) Indian shooters Anisa Sayyed and Rahi Sarnobat qualified for the women's 25-metre pistol semi-finals after finishing second and third respectively in their qualification rounds of the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
15 civilians killed in eastern Ukraine
Lugansk, July 26 (IANS/ITAR -TASS) Fifteen civilians were killed and about 60 injured in mortar attacks on Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, media reported Saturday. Lugansk was under massive mortar and heavy artillery fire...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
France hosts international meet for Gaza truce
Paris, July 26 (IANS) France Saturday held an international meeting on ways to end the bloodshed and secure a long-term cease fire in the Gaza Strip where an Israeli military offensive has killed hundreds of...
Read more on Politics Balla