Recently I went to get my UK visa photo taken, and while I was at it I had them make Canadian passport-sized copies as well. My passport will expire while I’m the in the UK, and it seems like a bad plan to be living abroad with an expired passport.
Recently the Canadian government has given us the option of a ten-year passport, which is convenient and cost-effective. I joked that I’d decide whether to get a five-year or ten-year one based on how my photo turned out. Wait, that totally wasn’t a joke.
The last time I applied for a UK visa I ended up having the photo taken last minute. I showed up for my appointment at the application center with copies of my passport photo, which were too old to be used. (Generally I thoroughly read through all instructional materials at my disposal, but somehow I missed the photo eligibility information…) I was sent a few doors down to a man who took the best ID picture I have ever had in my life. I mistakenly believed that I had developed an ability to take good ID pictures; my American passport and driver’s license photos, both taken subsequently, thoroughly disprove this theory. I was left with only two logical conclusions: that the photo was a fluke, or that the guy who had taken my picture was a wizard.
I chose not to believe that I had simply been lucky once, and went considerably out of my way to return to the same guy for this latest round of photos.
In my last visa photo, I didn’t do my makeup for the camera since I hadn’t known I would be photographed. I wore very simple makeup that I hoped would make me look like a young lady who deserved a study visa to whoever was processing my application and taking scans of my retinas. (I still find it freaky that the UK government has my eyeballs on file. Very Big Brother!) This time around, I did my makeup specifically with the knowledge that I would be photographed. Here’s how it turned out:
Not too bad, if I do say so myself! I wish I’d tied my hair back, but I can live with this for a decade, probably. I think the most important thing I did right this time was to pick the right lip colour. I wore NARS Brigitte in my driver’s license photo, but the bright lights really washed me out and my lips look super pale. (I’m not going to post that picture because it’s terrible, so you will have to take my word for it.) This time around I went for my YSL Rouge Volupté in 17, which is a beautiful mid-toned pink berry. It added enough colour to my lips to really show up in the picture while still being something neutral that I will hopefully not be embarrassed about when I’m 33. I also went a bit heavier with my blush than usual (and, of course, used Hourglass Mood Exposure). For my eyes, I defined the crease with a neutral brown eyeshadow and then used black liner as close to my lashline as possible for further definition. And I used my MUFE Ultra HD foundation because it was made to photograph beautifully!
Old vs. new! In my last passport picture I was wearing thick black eyeliner, mascara, and undereye concealer – this was about six months before I started getting into makeup. Obviously I would not be caught dead in an ID photo without lipstick now, but that was out of the question back then. My lips look so pale! And I totally overdid it with the eyeliner. Oh well, I was 18, what did I know about anything? All in all, I’d say it’s an improvement.
(Fun fact: I am semi-smirking in the old photo because immediately before the picture was taken the photographer told me I looked like Tiffany, which I found bizarre.)
(Second fun fact: I have had issues travelling on this passport multiple times because various border agents find it impossible to imagine that I could be the same person when my hair is different. When I was trying to leave Brussels in 2014 three different people had to assess my passport before deciding that I was me, and that I had had a haircut and a bleach job. I was like, “The rest of my face is the same, why is this so hard!!!!!”)
If my ID photos have taught me anything, it’s that smart makeup choices can be the difference between “meh” and “good”. And that I can easily look like I want to murder you:
I’m stuck with this for another eight and a half years. Also, how is this even real? I can’t use this as ID anywhere because nobody on the planet would believe that a nation would issue something so ridiculous-looking as ID. Incidentally, I wore the same YSL lipstick in this photo, but the black-and-white thing really does no favours for someone with fair, low-contrast colouring.
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