Dictionary

Criminal (aka Getting A Mug-Shot Done For Your New Driving Licence)

[Adjective; Noun; ~ Pronunciation: /krim-uh-nl/]

  • Definition: Being forced to untie your hair, put it behind your ears, look straight into the camera lens and, above all, not smile. Especially remember that: never smile on the photo for any new legal document! They might think you’re actually a happy person, while governments everywhere just want to make you look like a criminal.
criminal“Contrast is what makes photography interesting”
– Conrad Hall –

As I entered the Town Hall to get my licence prolonged, I briefly mentioned looking like a criminal in all my official pictures, after which the desk clerk laughed and started a chat:

Clerk: “Could I see your current driver’s licence for a moment, please?”
Me: “Sure.”

*Hands over driving licence*
*Clerk looks at document, back at me, and then back at the photo document in her hand with a dubious expression on her face*

Clerk: “Where you really eighteen in this picture? You look so much younger, I’d say you were sixteen!”
Me: “Actually, I was twenty then.”
Clerk:  *gasps for air* “No way!”
Me: “I got my driving licence when I was twenty and had my picture taken especially for the document.”

*Clerk is silent for a moment, then takes a renewed peek at the new photo I gave her earlier*

Clerk: “You look like eighteen in this one.”

*Short silence*

Clerk: “You know, if each time you prolong your licence (every ten years), you only look two years older, I think you’re a very lucky woman!”

*Another short silence*

Me: “I still look like a wanted criminal, though.”
Clerk: “Maybe, but a very young one, nevertheless.”


I am not really sure how Tyra Banks did it. She once told a story of how she got approached on a plane by a model scout and got asked for a photograph. She didn’t have one on her so she showed the man her passport and voila! She got hired.

I am so not going to pull that off with any of my official pictures.

Whenever I need to have my picture taken for any legal document, I feel like a criminal. I feel like this:

criminal2
Samantha S. Wanted for breaking the law by being too awesome. If you’ve seen or know this person, please contact your local police office.

(Actually, that doesn’t even look too bad.)

I understand there are rules and regulations which are necessary in order to be able to quickly identify someone. I get it, it’s a passport or a driver’s licence or whatnot and you can’t possibly have a happy or goofy picture on it. That’s what Facebook is for. This is an official document and the least they ask for is an official (read: boring) picture of you.

Maybe this is done so it’s easier to scoop out the real criminals: they surely don’t look uncomfortable in their pictures at all, do they?

Whatever it is, I can only be happy and relieved both passports and driving licences won’t expire for ten years, strongly decreasing the amount of awkward, criminal-like pictures I’ll need to produce. Criminal-like and young pictures, obviously, because if I gain two photo-years for every ten years in real life, I’ll look like twenty by the time I am forty.

Which must be a crime in itself, surely?


PS: Oh my goodness, I really DO look like just eighteen! O_o
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