LISA NAPOLI: Now that we’ve talked about travel overseas, let’s talk about passports. And the dreadful experience of getting one of those photos taken that wind up looking like a mug shot.
Like many of us, Michelle Philippe has issues with photography. She’s working up a scheme to kill two birds with one stone.
MICHELLE PHILIPPE: I don’t have a passport. But it’s not sitting in a vault waiting to be processed by the State Department. My passport is hiding in a pile of junk on my desk. Expired, because I can’t afford to get my picture taken.
I’m saving for my wedding. I realize the average American wedding hovers around the $28,000 mark. Ours is not going to be anything like that, but even so, it adds up fast.
So, I’m developing a plan. A way I can get the most bang for my buck and ensure success, with a little old-fashioned multitasking. I want to look beautiful and effervescent in my passport photo. Like Venus in a pre-Raphaelite painting. When the customs clerk stamps my passport in a country, I want to be backlit.
This kind of imagery costs money. Hair stylists and lights and wardrobe. Paris Hilton spent $10,000 on a hair and make-up session last year. That dramatically exceeds my budget. Remember, I’m getting married.
I’ve had bad experiences with photo ID. I look like Satan in my college identification photo. My YMCA gym membership pic is worse — fluorescent lighting left my face heavily shadowed. On the goddess to zombie beauty scale, I slide heavily toward undead.
When my driver’s license came up for renewal, I was determined to get a good picture. I got a new sweater, made a trip to the hairdresser and practiced smiling while driving to get into character. As I stood on my mark, ready to pose for my DMV portrait, the woman taking my picture actually helped me fix an out-of-place hair. And though her tenderness gave me a fresh perspective on government involvement in my life, I have my doubts.
I doubt if I’ll be calm enough to sit still for any photo until my wedding day has come and gone. My fiance and I just started interviewing photographers. A psychotic process.
Now, I love photography. It’s a timeless, beautiful art. But I dare you to stay sane while a string of strangers insist their work will immortalize the most important day of your life. For thousands of dollars. Because in the end, the pictures are all you’ve got. And that’s the selling point. And I don’t want to look like the living dead wearing a marshmallow dress.
So, all my styling dough is going into my wedding day. My carefully-chosen artsy photographer will capture our ceremony. Then right after, they’ll snap a shot for my passport — in the garden, while I’m wearing white. Effervescent. Efficient. Excellent!
NAPOLI: Michelle Philippe is an actor and she works right here at Marketplace as our production office coordinator.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.