For most Americans, one of the first steps in the process of submitting a passport application is to stand in front of a white background and have the photo clerk at the nearest drugstore take your picture. But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, according to the Oxford University Press blog, passports did not have to include a photo of the bearer until 1914. Before that time, the Department of State relied on detailed written physical descriptions to ensure that passports were not used fraudulently.
If you think the picture on your passport looks like a mug shot, you’re not alone. Nor is this a new problem-people have been complaining about how much they hate their passport photos ever since passport photos became mandatory. The Oxford University press blog notes:
This “distortion” was the product of the clashing of two particular traditions of photographing people: the portrait and the “scientific” image (generally used in criminal identification photographs). Most passport applicants associated representational truth with the specific articulation of realism in photographic portraits. This association gave rise to complaints that a standardized passport photograph was unflattering, and in fact did not look like the bearer. From the inception of passport photographs, people experienced “a pang of horrid surprise, almost disbelief, upon first looking at the photograph which [was] to identify them in a foreign country;” at least according to a New York Times editorial from 1930…
It already takes at least 6 weeks to get your passport if you apply with normal processing. Even if you apply with expedited processing, it could still take up to 3 weeks. However, if your passport photo isn’t up to snuff, you could be looking at an even longer processing time. To keep your application from being delayed, see Passport Photos: How to Get Them Right the First Time.
If 3 weeks is too long to wait for your passport, RushMyPassport can help. We’ll walk you through the application process and deliver your application directly to the Department of State for lightning-fast processing.
Submit your passport application today!