Well, passport photo's to be precise. I have yet to meet anyone, correction, any woman who is happy with her passport photograph. It offends our sensibilities and seriously messes with our self esteem. Not surprising really, that unsmiling stare doesn't do much for anyone. Mine usually makes me look like a combination of deranged psychopath and the intellectually challenged. Although to be fair after an early morning/late evening start, a three hour wait in an uncomfortable airport, a flight of however many hours in a less than spacious plane serving dubious 'food' it could be said that it's probably doing me some favours :o/
With that being said, while I wasn't expecting the boys to come back with shots that made them look like the next teen heart throbs, I was hoping for ones that wouldn't make me want to be standing three aisles away, looking in the opposite direction during check in.
It was so much easier when they were younger. Perhaps easy is not the right word. While I completely understand the need for children to have their own passports (although can't quite get my head around why only lasting for half as long as an adult one they cost more than half the price!) did anyone at the identity and passport service actually stop to think how difficult it was going to be for parents to get an acceptable photograph of their infant?
I was fortunate. The boys were nearly two and a half before we were invited to join their grandparents on holiday. I dutifully set off, with the help of my mother-in-law, to obtain the appropriate images. After two aborted attempts at the photo booth it became apparent professional help was required. Down a little side street in Dumfries we came across a photographers that was open. In amongst all of the wedding and Gala day shots in the window was a sign advertising passport photographs. Result!
The door had one of those springy bells hanging above us that jingled as we entered. It was quite dark inside since all of the windows had been blanked out with black velvet, the perfect backdrop to the pictures on display within them. A door creaked at the back of the room. I looked at my mother-in-law at the same time as she turned to me. The door creaked again. Okaaaay. So that was a bit spooky! The door opened a bit further and then, with a violent pull, it was opened to its full extent revealing a small woman, dressed in a high necked blouse and long skirt, who must have been about a hundred and three. For some reason Arsenic and Old Lace immediately came to mind.
Feeling a bit like a landed fish, mouth wordlessly open and gasping I eventually got out the usual pleasantries and explained what we were there for. Full of a charm and grace that is sadly missing in most receptionists these days she informed us that yes, indeed we would be able to get passport photographs of the boys taken that day and ushered us in to the studio.
It was much lighter in there, white back drops and bright lights creating the illusion of daylight. I was expecting to see the photographer in a corner doing something technical with a light meter and lenses so was completely at a loss when this tiny little woman, wearing orthopaedic braces on both wrists started manhandling a tripod with a camera on top across the room. I looked to my mother-in-law again. She looked back with a raised eye brow that would have done Spock proud.
It transpired the receptionist was the mother of the photographer, who not only minded the shop but could also fill in for him when he wasn't around. She fussed and tutted for a few moments murmuring to herself, leading me to question her suitability for the job in hand.She then proceeded with a strange bird like efficiency to position the boys just so, and somehow managed to get them to stay that way while she took the photographs. Which was a good job really since she wasn't using a digital camera but rather a passport specific instant Polaroid ( producing four identical images on one sheet).
She did however have a problem pulling the paper from the camera, eventually enlisting my help with the procedure. At this point my mother-in-law and I silently, almost telepathically, agreed not to look at one another again in case we offended the old dear by collapsing on the floor in a fit of the giggles.
|No 1 son looking suitably worried, as every innocent person going through customs usually looks|
|No 2 son couldn't help a small smile, it's in his nature, and at the age of 2 is excusable.|
Fortunately for my peace of mind by the time the boys next passports were due the local chemist was offering a photograph service. I don't think I could have kept my face straight if I'd had to see her again.
This years upcoming school trip to Belgium meant another renewal was required. I sent the boys off, stupidly thinking they would be capable of obtaining a decent photograph themselves. Vanity thy name is woman, because its glaringly obvious it doesn't belong to my teenage boys .
They both came home with mug shots that any police file would be proud to sport. All that was missing were height lines and serial numbers along the bottom. No 2 son looked like an ASBO waiting to happen, complete with hoodie, one that he had only been allowed to wear under the explicit instruction it was removed before any camera made an appearance.
No 1 son on the other hand had excelled himself. He looked like some sort of drug dealer that had sampled too much of his own product.If I hadn't been so taken aback I would have been impressed. What was even scarier was that the assistant had asked them to check the images before she printed them off and they hadn't see anything wrong with them! Geesh!
I met them from school the other week, oversaw the new haircut, frogmarched them back to the chemist and had new photographs taken. Looks like the independence is going to have to wait a while. Either that or I'm going to have to learn to relax:o)