So I’ve been working at this portrait studio since September, so about 4 months now (feels like longer…) and while our main focus is portrait photography, we get a lot of clients coming in for passport/other various ID pictures. We’ll often have days where we don’t take any portraits, but we’ll be busy all day taking passport pictures. Here are some things I’ve learned that I’ve decided to share with you to make the process easier (note: I work in a Canadian studio, all points may not be true in every studio)
1. Make sure you tell your photographer what you need, they cannot read minds. If you say you need passport pictures done, we’re going to assume you mean the standard size for Canadian passports, which is 50mm wide x 70mm tall and that you will need 2 of them because that is what is required for the application. Fire Arms licences, Permanent Resident Cards, Treaty Cards, Citizenship applications and paperwork for other countries are all different sizes, so you need to tell us what your pictures are for and how many you need. This will make everyone’s life easier.
2. If you have any concerns about your pictures, make sure you tell your photographer. Your paperwork may say something different than our reference material. Clear communication between photographer and client will ensure that pictures will get accepted the first time around.
3. It doesn’t matter how you normally present yourself, your photographer is going to ask you to follow the guidelines for your particular paperwork. This includes:
- glasses have to be taken off
- hair must be pulled behind, not covering shoulders, ears or face
- make cannot be too shiny
- unless you where a head scarf for religious purposes, that cute infinity scarf you always wear will have to come off
- no bulky jewelry
- no bulky clothing around neck
The Canadian government could care less about your fashion choices and have put these rules in place for a reason. If you follow them in the first place your picture will be accepted.
4. No smiling. No ID card lets you smile anymore, I still have my first driver’s licence and I have a nice pretty smile, too bad my next licence I look like a murderer with my dark hair, facial piercings and scowl! I realize that you’re suddenly going to want to smile just because you’re photographer is telling you not to, but they don’t find it as funny as you. They probably go through that routine with every other person that comes in for an ID picture.
5. Don’t wear black or white. I don’t know the real reason for this, though on the white background a white shirt will make you look like a floating head. When someone comes into the studio with a black or white shirt we have to put an ugly vest on them, so where something colourful :)
6. Don’t stress over the picture. How many people are realistically going to see your passport picture? I don’t know about you but my passport sits in an accordion folder on a shelf in my room unless I’m travelling, so barely anyone gets to see it because I don’t travel that often anymore. You’re not going to frame your passport on the wall for all to see so if you look like an angry serial killer, most people will never know.
7. Be nice to your photographer. They are a person too, you wouldn’t like it if they showed up at your job and made you want to cry. If you have an issue with the photos or your photographer, use your grown up civil words and I can guarantee you the experience would go much better. I had an experience with a client who found information about the photos he needed online but they did not match my reference material so we butted heads a bit. He treated me like utter garbage and made me take about 30 pictures in a span of about an hour only to slink back into the studio later than day to tell me I was right. When he left I had to go hide in the back and bawl my eyes out for a good 10 minutes before being able to serve other clients, he treated me like he was above me. Just because someone in the service industry is serving you, does not give you the right to treat them as if they are below you - we live in an equal country, treat everyone as such.
So that’s my list of things I’ve learned that seem relevant :)