When my husband and I recently traveled to Mexico, our passports were six months away from expiring. We were a little nervous because we had read that some countries require passports to have more than six months left before their expiration date, but we didn’t have enough time to renew. Fortunately, we passed through the border check with no issues at all.
Almost as soon as we returned from our trip, we began the process of renewing our passports. We hope to travel outside the country later this year so we wanted to ensure adequate turnaround time without having to pay the $60 expedited service fee.
Our first order of business was to have updated photos taken.
You probably have seen – or at least have heard about – Prince’s new passport photo. He was so proud of it, he tweeted it out to his followers. And, it truly is a thing of beauty:
Since Prince’s private make-up artist and photographer were busy, my husband and I decided to get our photos taken at Costco. This would be the same Costco that manages to make me look like a shrunken pinhead each time they take my photo for my membership card. For some reason, we thought this was a good idea.
My prior passport photo was taken just after I turned fifty. It wasn’t great, but I was happy that my Farrah Fawcett winged bangs on my 1970s-era passport were a thing of the past. Fifty-year-old-me had a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look, but it wasn’t too bad.
To be fair, the young man who took my photo this time did his best. He offered to take it again but I was pretty sure it wasn’t his skill as a photographer that was the problem. It was me. I was in a hurry that morning and didn’t take the time to fix my hair or put on makeup. I was in full retirement mode and didn’t think that it was important. I hadn’t considered that I will have this photo in my passport for the next ten years (at which time, I’ll be 70 years old and, I promise you, no better looking than I am now).
It wasn’t until after we mailed off our photos and passport renewal paperwork that I truly grasped the gravity of my mistake. I realized that I was going to cringe every time I had to present my passport to tour operators, border agents, and hotel clerks. What if it is so awful they don’t believe it is truly me? Even worse, what does it mean if they think it looks exactly like me?
Doing some online research after the fact, I found this 2014 Vogue Magazine article that provides five helpful tips for preparing for a passport photo shoot. Even though the tips are geared towards women, men also might find it helpful and even consider borrowing – and discreetly applying – a little makeup too (after all, Prince did it, why can’t you).
It’s too late for me, but there may be hope for you if your passport needs updating soon. Why look like a zombie when you could look like royalty?