Photographs for Purposes of Identification

Identification photographs have a number of strict rules. For example:

“The photo must be of the applicant: facing forward and looking straight at the camera in close-up of their face, head and shoulders with a recommended head height (the distance between the bottom of the chin and the crown of the head) of between 29 and 34 millimetres with a neutral expression and with the mouth closed (no smiling, frowning or raised eyebrows) with their eyes open and clearly visible […] free from reflection or glare on glasses, and frames must not cover eyes (we recommend that, if possible, glasses are removed for the photo) showing their full head, without any head covering, unless they wear one for religious beliefs or medical reasons with no other objects or people in the photo (this also applies to a photo of a baby or young child and babies should not have toys or a dummy in the photo)” – HM Passport Office – Passport Photograph Guidance

“…the photograph must have been taken within the last six months; the applicant should not look down or to either side [ …] angled views are NOT accepted; the photos must be clear, well defined and taken against a plain white or light-colored background; sunglasses or other wear which detracts from the face are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons (an eye patch, for example)” – Russian Visa Photo Specification

All of this should lead to something that is unequivocally me, but certain bits – in particular the UKPA requirement for me to take off my glasses – seem to make them remarkably unlike the Simon Chirgwin who looks out at me while I shave in the morning.

I find ID pictures suggest different personas – the harrassed middle-aged dad (my old driving licence) – or different fictional circumstances – me, chained to a radiator in Beirut (my pass for work). None of them are really me, but various officials agree to conspire with me that they are…


References:

  • HM Passport Office – Passport Photograph Guidance – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/303780/Photoguidance_v7.pdf
  • Russian Visa Photo Specifications – http://www.ruscon.org/forms/photospecs.htm

Links accessed, 8/8/16

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