THE SOUL is shaped by words, images, & experiences.

THIS BLOG is about those things that have left their impression on me. I'd love for you to comment on what affects you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Smile and Don't Say Cheese

Dorian & Alex mugging before the Web cam (2000).

Ah, the wonders of Greek bureaucracy! Today, bucking heavy traffic, chilling rain and wind, Peter and I set out on foot to renew my residence permit. An American friend of ours recently renewed his, and he made the process sound simple. "You just need two or three photos and your spouse's ID," he said, showing off his new adeia. I admired the small, laminated card. The previous permit had been a sticker that was slapped on one of the pages of our passports. Not a very practical system, since the expiration dates of the two rarely coincided. My passport expired way before my residence permit, and on the advice of the permit clerk in 2004, I'd been forced to carry around two passports. (More on this, later).

I hit the photo place first and got my picture taken. The ID photos came four in a strip. Plenty, I naively thought. We walked over to the town hall, umbrella blown inside-out, and then up the stairs, dripping, to the permits department. I placed my passports and photos on the counter, and when Peter told the middle-aged clerk what we were there for, she grinned. It was an evil grin. She continued to smile as she explained all of the OTHER things I needed to bring, before she could renew my permit. Never mind that I'm married to a Greek, I've been living here for twenty-six years and I've given the nation two productive Greek males. She asked us for photocopies of everything, even our health insurance booklet. She asked for my ID photos. Not two, not three, not four. Five! Uh huh. You know what that meant. Back to the photo place. Oh wait! The best is yet to come-- To top it all off, she contradicted the advice I was given in 2004 and said I'll have to pay a fine because I didn't return to the office when I got my new passport!

I looked around for hidden cameras, thinking I was the object of some comedy show prank. No, seriously, you need a sense of humor to live here.

Anyway, the permit saga continues.

Back to those dreaded headshots. I hate them! My passport pic gives credence to the saying: "If you look like your passport photo, you're too sick to travel". I figured there must be a secret to taking decent pictures, so before I left this morning, I searched the Web for tips. In time for the holidays, here's what I found:

How to be Photogenic (see wikiHow for details)


  1. Wear clothes with colors that suit you.
  2. Hide your blemishes. If you’ve got a unsightly look on one side of your face, for example, don’t show the camera that side.
  3. Determine your best angle. The classic model’s pose is to arrange your body 3⁄4 toward the camera with one foot in front of the other and one shoulder closer to the camera than the other. This isn’t the best pose for everybody, however, and it can look a little ridiculous when used in a family photo right next to Uncle Ed.
  4. Get rid of a double chin. Tilt your head down slightly and try to position yourself so that the camera is a little above your eye level. This will hide a double chin fairly effectively. You can also put one hand under your chin as though you’re resting your head on your hand (keep the thumb side of your hand out of the camera’s view, if possible). Don’t actually rest any weight on the hand, however, or you will push the skin into an unflattering position. Also try resting your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  5. Stick your neck out. One trick models often use is to present a 3⁄4 pose to the camera (turn your head so that 3⁄4 of it is exposed to the camera, as opposed to a full frontal shot) and then lift your neck and slightly tilt your head down, as though you are a turkey sticking its head out (without actually thrusting your chin out). This improves facial definition and helps ameliorate wrinkles and flabby skin.
  6. Relax. Many people end up looking odd in photos because they freeze into odd facial expressions with a “say cheese” type of smile on their face.
  7. Think happy thoughts.
  8. Smile with your eyes.
  9. Listen to your mother. Remember how mom always told you not to slouch? Good posture can dramatically improve your appearance in pictures.
  10. Get a better photographer. Professional photographers generally know how to bring out the beauty in people.
  11. Edit or enhance photos. If you’ve tried everything, but you still can’t seem to get a good picture of yourself, try slightly altering your digital photos. Changing the lighting effects or filter effects, for example, can dramatically improve the appearance of your complexion.

1 comment:

Brenda Susan said...

Ha! Those photo tips make me all stiff & nervous just reading them! Sorry about the passport mess, your experience clearly gives a perfect example of legalism versus freedom doesn't it? My relationship with God has been drastically changed since learning that He is not at all legalistic! Hope it gets worked out for you.