Soapbox: In pursuit of a presentable passport photo

Three of the author’s passport photo attempts

By Kathy Meeks

Oh dread. My passport has expired and I need a new passport picture. Looking on the internet, I go to a shipping/mailing/copying outfit a 10-minute walk from me in the East Village that provides this service. In a space teeming with customers waiting to mail packages, one of the clerks lines me up against a white background screen and takes the shot. It costs $15 and it looks like a mugshot.

I am not running around with a passport that makes me look hungover for the next ten years. When I was young and photogenic, I could get away with drugstore passport photos. Now that I have reached a more, shall we say, sophisticated stage of life, I need help. I need a real photographer. But I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg. I’m not trying to get a date or an acting job, impress people on LinkedIn or immortalize myself as a dynamic executive. I just want to look like a normal, respectable person in a passport photo.

Lucky me. I chanced upon David Beyda, who has a very small studio on 40th Street opposite Bryant Park. He does photos for all of the above needs, but also passport photos, and the passport pictures packages are reasonably priced from $20 to the “deluxe” $99 package. I choose the deluxe. I figure I could use all the help I could get. After a certain age, lighting and camera angle are everything.

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