Life Hacks Travel

Life Hacks: The (Dreaded) Passport Photo

October 18, 2014


The time rolled ‘round for me to renew my South African passport, a task that I had been putting off for the longest time. After the epic disaster and train wreck that are my ID and Drivers license photos respectively, I had to devise a system to make this one the exception, rather than complete a trilogy of unflattering identity documents.

So I thought: what makes a good picture in general? And then I proceeded to alter those principals to the rules and regulations of a passport photo. Here’s what I came up with:

Sleep tight, be fresh.

This is essential. My ID photo was taken in the throes of the winter flu of ‘09, my driver’s license photo was taken after an entire week of minimal sleep (stressing over my driving test, go figure). So last night I went to bed really early and managed to get a good night of rest in. Kinda.


Prep your face.

This one isn’t just for the ladies; random things can influence how well you photograph, things you wouldn’t really even think of. Like sunburn, or scratching that annoying pimple. What I had to remember was to avoid my glasses and sunglasses for an hour or so before, they leave little impressions that usually take 15-20 minutes to dissipate.


Have a timeless look.

The normal South African passport is valid for 10 years from the date it was issued, 10 years is quite a long time. The day that you get your passport picture taken is probably not the best day to be uber trendy, because as we all know, trends die down. At the moment my hair is cut in a longish fringe that I easily swept out of my face, and I kept my makeup-look simple by avoiding bright eye shadow, as well as lipstick and gloss. I also wore a plain t-shirt, avoiding prints, and text.


Smile, but don’t really smile.

Seeing as how you’re not allowed to smile in passport pictures, I tried to semi smile, using my eyes to open up my face – or as Tyra Banks calls it: Smize.  It’s actually quite tricky, but there is a useful smize tutorial here if you’re curious on how to achieve this mysterious half-smile.


When your eyebrows are in spasm from “smizing”, and the thought of awaiting home affairs queues are enough to drive you to tears (they were actually remarkably short this time), just remember why you’re there…  A passport is a gateway to the world, to amazing times with family and friends, new countries and therefore new cultures and mostly; adventure. Focus on that thought as they snap your picture, maybe it’ll change your picture-luck, just as it did mine.


Ray xx

Source: Gifs – &

Pictures: My weheartit canvas (here)

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