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Passport photos - the good, the bad & your options

Nick002 Passport photos - the good, the bad & your options

When it comes to passport photos, we've seen it all - from DIY disasters to shockers from Australia Post outlets to picture perfect images that make you want to hide your own passport in the sock drawer! With the restrictions required by facial recognition software (biometrics) - eyes open, mouth closed, no smiling, no glasses, etc ... - there is very little scope for improvement on the proverbial "mug shot" - but is that such a bad thing?

When applying for a new passport, or renewing our current one, we have to remember just what the photo is for - recognition and confirmation of the holder's right to travel (legally) around this wonderful planet - we are not auditioning for a beauty pageant or tempting a potential new partner to take a chance on us via some match making app. Let's face it, our passport spends 90+% of it's existence in the above mentioned sock drawer, with the enclosed image only seen by a few bored customs workers (and that's only those countries without e-passport technology) who really don't care about the bags under your eyes or the fact that you've put on a kilo or two since the last photo - as long as it's a reasonable facsimile of yourself, then it's done it's job.

But that doesn't mean we have to settle for really bad photos; we just have to be realistic in our expectations on how our passport photo will look. Here at Presto Photographics we have gone the extra mile to make sure our customers are satisfied (if not enamored) with their new photo - we always show our subject their image before printing it, and we will always continue to take the photo until they are satisfied with their photo and it still meets the requirements of the controlling government body.

This brings up another point - the requirement to have your photo "inspected" and ruled upon an Australia Post (AP) employee. We have to remember that AP simply acts as a collection agency for DFAT (Dept of Foreign Affairs & Trade) and as such cannot reject outright your photos - they are meant to offer their judgement on the likelihood of your photos being accepted and offer advice on how to fix (supposed) problems with the images. Now this is where the situation becomes murky - AP also takes passport photos (their claim is that their's are the only ones guaranteed to be accepted - which has been proven wrong time and time again), so the usual fix is that they will take new photos for you on the spot and you should claim your money back from your original source. We have taken AP to task over this on numerous occasions - even complaining to the ACCC over unfair business practices - how can one party in this process be both a player and the umpire? How can that playing field be anywhere near level? It has become so ridiculous that we now include a note with all passport photos we take stating we will gladly retake the photos, but won't offer a refund unless they are rejected BY DFAT.

On many occasions we have had customers return to have their photos retaken after being rejected by AP. After checking their images and ensuring them their photos are perfect we tell them they should try another Post Office - one which we know is unlikely to reject the images - and we usually receive a phone call or follow up visit letting us know that their application was accepted.

Our own son got caught in this "scam" by AP after we took his photo (obviously making sure it met all requirements), and then when he submitted his application at a Brisbane suburban P.O. he was told the photos were incorrect and he should have them retaken on the spot to save time and ensure his renewal wasn't delayed. You can guess how upset we were when he told us - at AP for getting away with yet another con job, but also at him for acquiescing to their blatant money grab. The only upside was our chance to ridicule the AP images, because, really, they are just inferior. (see above).

So, if you find yourself in this situation, remember your rights and as long as you're confident of your photos being correct, insist they (AP) accept your application and submit it to DFAT with the photos you have provided.