Visa Photo Adventure

We have all been subjected to having our photos taken at some point; whether by the surly DMV or SOS agent making us a drivers license or at the hands of a well meaning family member, chances are you have taken some bad pictures in your lifetime. While that is all fine and good, many of us I am sure would prefer these sub-par photos be burned and buried at the bottom of a very large pit…not plastered on the front of our passport, visa, or other government issued ID. I have had quite the time trying to perfect not completely ruin my visa pictures, and with the help of my local Walgreens I had ALMOST succeeded. Until I didn’t.

The Kayla BunchBefore we get to that story though, let’s take a brief step through my previous ID photos so I can give you an idea of how much I really dislike this whole process. The first picture was taken for my first passport when I was 14 or so. It was done in a professional photo studio, so I expected it to turn out half-way decent. Winning. The second one was a replacement drivers license for the one I lost on a subway platform in Australia. I thought they could just print a new one with the old photo, my mistake. Lesson learned. The third was my college ID, why they took the photos with the windows and sunlight in the background I’ll never know, but at least I don’t look too pale. Number four was a new drivers license when the old expired, not too bad. The fifth was taken in Tennessee and was by far the best ID picture I’ve ever had. You know it is good when you get snarky comments from the TSA agent at the airport about not looking terrible in your ID picture. In number 6 I am attempting to look more awake by opening my eyes wider. Unfortunately it gave off more of a crazy googley-eye effect and I will be stuck with this beauty for the next several years. Number 7 is my current passport photo, and either the regulations have recently changed, or they accidentally let me smile. Either way the photo was accepted! This brings me to the last two photos…

The eighth photo was taken for the business visa application we are about to mail in. They told us not to smile and at the time I thought nothing of it. Once I got the photos back I had a different opinion…something along the lines of “Holy crap, I look like I just woke up from a very strenuous nap, and is my head really that small?” Needless to say I was not enamored with the results. When I learned we were going to need MANY more photos for all the paperwork (passport, business visa, medical exam in china, work visa invitation, and likely more) I decided I was going to put some effort in and order a bunch of photos at once.

Today I stopped by home after work before having my picture taken. I brushed my hair, washed my face, and tried to make myself look better than I felt. Overall I thought I had a chance of a half way decent photo! I showed up, asked if they could print 10 photos this time so I wouldn’t have to come back, and stood in front of the white screen for my close-up. She showed me the photo on their digital camera and it looked better. Victory! To celebrate I went our for beer and a hotdog with some friends thinking I would pick up the photos on my way home. We had a great time and I walked back into Walgreens feeling confident that I had done better than the last time. They rung me up for >$100 and I immediately realized they had messed up the quantity. I did not need 20 photos, just 10 would work. They said that was no problem and someone at the photo counter could cut them to size and only charge me for half. Perfect, that would work. I arrive at the photo counter to find a new worker than the one I had seen before. He looked at the photos, said it was no problem to only charge me for the quantity I need, but he had serious concerns about whether the photos will be acceptable since I was wearing a coat at the time…crap. He offers to take a new photo for me really quick and I can be on my way. I have just had beer and hot dogs to improve my complexion, my hair is a mess again has been restyled by mother nature (because it’s raining), and I’m tired and ready for bed. This is surely the recipe for my best picture ever. He takes the photo, tries again, and shows them to me. Well at least my head doesn’t look so small anymore…He obliges me with a third attempt, assuring me that this time I do in fact look less asleep than the first two tries. Solid. He prints and cuts the pictures for me and I leave. As long as the pictures meet the requirements and are accepted I guess I’ll get over it.

The moral of this story: I am bad at having my picture taken and the universe does not want me to have a nice picture for my application(s). Well played universe, well played.

The "way too" close-up
The “way too” close-up

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