Monday, 20 April 2009

Picture perfect

We had a lovely family outing on Saturday....to get our US visa photos taken.

Now, these visa photographs are not the same as just any old common or garden UK passport photo, which you could get from a booth or your local post office. Oh no, why would you think that? These are SPECIAL photos, of a completely different size and specification. And you can get them taken at, ooh, about three places in the whole of London (Lord only knows what you do if you live outside London). There was nowhere south of the river as far as I could tell from Google, so we ventured 'oop north' from Nappy Valley, taking the Littleboys for an excursion on the Tube, which luckily they love, followed by a pizza lunch.

The studio had advertised itself as being open at 10am, but we got there to find it looking dark and very shut up at 10.30. There were several other people standing there looking irritated. Eventually a man turned up and starting turning lights on. He informed us that it would be open at 11. After a wander around Covent Garden, we returned to find it STILL closed and the people who had been waiting since 10 slowly giving up and going away. By this point Littleboy 1 needed a wee, and Littleboy 2 was desperate to get out of his pram and run around. When the proprietor did turn up, he was very apologetic and even gave us a discount, but the boys by this time were restless and bored.

Meeting the requirements was a lengthy process, one that involved many instructions that small boys are seemingly incapable of following. For example, closing their mouth; not smiling, touching their face, biting their sleeve, pouting, screwing their eyes up or simply looking the wrong way.

Littleboy 1 was vaguely keen to play the game, being quite into posing for the camera. But Littleboy 2 was impossible. Each shot had something slightly wrong with it; his hair was in his eyes; his mouth was open; the angle of his face was slightly wrong. (All highly suspicious indications, I am sure, of a two year old trying to enter a country illegally and malevolently.)

Eventually the deed was done and we scuttled back across the river to the South Bank, where we had lunch. "They technically cannot reject them," I was assured (about the photographs, not the Littleboys).

I'll believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, I am just thankful the boys don't have to come to the Embassy with us for the 'interview' part of the process....

8 comments:

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

visa applications. Don't start me on them. We had to have medicals (including the kids) which include a psychological test. I'm not joking. It was some warped Catch 22 situation. If you want to go through the process of getting a visa you must be mad. Therefore we deny you the visa on grounds of insanity. Arrghghghghhhh. (Sound of head thumping on the keyboard)

Good luck... may time and the god of visa applications be on your side.

Kit said...

We had a similar fraught process getting common or garden UK passport photos done here in SA. Three of the family had their first lot rejected due to the capital offence of smiling, or turning the face at a slight angle, so we had to get them done again and courier them up to Jo'burg to catch up with the rest of the application. Smiling five year olds are dangerous... don't trust them!

Iota said...

If you don't live in London, you have to go to Glasgow - which was a 2 hour drive from where we lived. We winged it in the local Snappy Snaps, and got away with it. But I expect it's on our FBI file somewhere "Didn't go to approved photo agent".

It's not only the no smiling and no pouting rules, it's also all the exact measurements about how far down the picture your eyes should be, how big the border of the picture is allowed to be, etc. All designed with an adult in mind, not the small head of a 2 year old.

Nota Bene said...

Wot no finger up the right nostril allowed?

Well you won't catch me in the US of A then

Maternal Tales said...

I can't tell you how much money we wasted on our little ones' passport photos - I wish we had had them done properly instead of in a booth in Boots. Having to hold them up because the stool isn't high enough is the easy part. Getting them not to smile and to hold it for longer than 3 seconds is the hard part. Am very impressed you managed it. Will be interested to hear the results!

nappy valley girl said...

Brit in Bosnia - there is a god of visa? I'd better start worshipping him now...

Kit - yes, the UK is much stricter now too. Why smiling is outlawed I cannot imagine - I suppose they think getting a visa is no smiling matter!

Iota - Snappy Snaps? The god of visa must definitely have been on your side...

NB - not coming to visit then?

Maternal tales - well they are old enough to balance on a stool now. When they were babies, we had to have them photographed from above,lying on a white sheet!

A Modern Mother said...

Poor you I can relate. I broght UK sized photos to renew as passport and they guy at the embassy threw them back and me and said they were no good and too small. Duuhhh. What was I supposed to do?Flyt to the US and get them taken? BTW -- they have a photo booth at the US Embassy in London that takes those "special" photos. Not that that helps you much now...

Hope you are settling in, let me know if you have any, er, issues...

Almost American said...

Renewing both sets of passports for the kids recently I was worried about the fact that the British and US requirements for the photos seemed to be slightly different. I found a local photographer that uses a digital camera (even tho the British passport info says digital photos are not OK) and he tweaked them to meet the specs for each country at no extra charge. Of course, you still have to get the sprogs to cooperate in the first place though . . .