Sunday, 22 June 2003

Getting the Best Out of Your Photograph Booth Picture

So the girls and I were having a pizza (bails and HS) and somehow came to be discussing the dreaded photograph booth photo (photocards for travel, passport pictures, student applications to uni, gym membership cards etc).

I have managed to keep the same photocard since I was 18 - which they both thought was anal to begin with, but also felt that the picture in it was good due to its youthfulness (they know how I feel about being over 30, sob). I was begging to differ because I knew it was good because it had been carefully orchestrated to be good (personnally I feel very certain that you can't leave these things to chance if you want to have a decent photo -- which I do -- because you may be stuck with it for a damn long time -- passport comes to mind). So when I need a photo from a photograph booth I do not want to fall into it with no preparation because I will not be happy to look half asleep, with my eyes closed and a big zit on my nose (far far far too vain for that, I have actually done the photos all over again if none of the four were up to scratch -- yes yes I know I'm beginning to sound freakish).

The girls thought I could sell pamphlets to students about this (I know they were taking the piss). So, in the interests of public imformation I present to you:

Harriet's Tips for Top Passport Photos
OR - Harriet's Top Tips for Passport Photos

  • Be prepared -- never do this on the spur of the moment. Always plan to use a photobooth, always do it first thing in the morning - preferably the first thing you do after leaving the house. You need to be clean, bright, non-sweaty, and if you are female recently made-up (make-up is fantastic for smoothing out the skin - very imporant in a photo - the camera never lies).

  • Think about your neckline -- if you are wearing a heavy coat, bulky scarf, thick polo-neck sweater take them off. Its good to see some skin, girls.

  • The background -- in the old fashioned machines you had a choice of three backgrounds - orange or blue curtain, or white background. White background may make you look washed out or very dark (depending on your skin tone), if choosing the curtain think about the best colour ranges for you (colour theory - bet you didn't think this came into a passport photo did you?). If you opt for a curtain go with orange if you are a reds person or the blue if you are a greens/blues person. You will have to cope with the fact that there will be pleats all down the background. I have in the past brought a backing cloth of my own - I used to use a red chiffon scarf to tie up against the white background - highly preferable although highly anal.

  • The stool -- you need to position yourself so that your whole head and shoulders are in the frame - you may need to wind the stool up or down - keep trying the level, you may need to wind it for a while. Always sit forward on the stool, never lean back against the booth, always sit up straight. Tilt your chin slightly downwards. Be aware of your double chins.

  • Your face -- compose yourself - smile but make sure it is realistic, twinkle your eyes, show some teeth if you feel it is appropriate. Look slightly off centre of the frame - you don't want to be staring into the flash because you will look shocked. Always opt for four individual shots if possible so that you can choose the best of the four. Inbetween shots recompose yourself in order to not look forced.

  • Instructions -- like with exams - read all the instructions before you put the money in - you don't want to be caught unawares.

  • Get to know your photobooth -- if you had a particularly good result from one photobooth, use it again - they are not all the same.

With these simple instructions your photobooth pictures should dramatically improve, so you don't have to live with those drunkard, shocked, eyes-half-closed, mouth open shots for the rest of your life.

So after all this discussion they still challenged me to come up with a recent photo which is as smiling and happy as my 18 year old photocard picture - damn it I'll have to prove it. I'll keep you posted of the relative success.

Oh and I'd also like to share with you a history of my passport pictures up until about age 24 (real job - had to dispense with pink hair) and although you may think I look like a freakshow, some of the photographs aren't too bad for a photobooth - apologies the quality of these images is poor cos I photo'ed them from an album.

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