I am more concerned...
... about the secret image processing algorithms in passport photo machines that make everybody else look like a convicted felon...
Police in the Australian state of Victoria were criticised when they uploaded a mugshot to Facebook, appealing for public assistance to help locate fugitive Daniel Damon. As sensitive as any artist about his work, the critic was none other than the 25-year-old local man himself, who is wanted for arrest after failing to answer …
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When regular people get thrown into the news by being arrested or by being killed or searched-for, the media uses their online comments and arrest record as a biography of sorts.
I sometimes wonder how I would look to the public if I make the news in such a way.
I have a few things on my rap sheet that can be presented unfavorably, and I unfortunately wouldn't have the opportunity to explain them.
"Does it matter??? Why be so vain about a passport photo???"
It's not a question of vanity - it's not easy in any kind of poor light or bright light to actually see the photo well enough to identify the individual - kind of the purpose of a passport. UK passport applications give all sorts of instructions about the quality, size & background of image required and then turn out an inferior product. (Unless all border officials have their eyesight modified !)
Unless all border officials have their eyesight modified
They are not watching the physical picture nowdays in most cases. It is either read out of the database (at significantly higher quality than the passport copy) or whatever the RFID reader gets out of the RFID chip.
The reason for the strict instructions is not to generate a picture from which a person can identify you, it's so that the computer generated hash of the salient features of your face can be encoded into the biometric data stored on the passport (things like the ratio of the gap between the eyes and the length of the nose).
Glasses, the direction you're looking, tilting the head, obstructive hair, and even the change in shape of the muscles in the face if smiling and the background can all make a significant difference to the hash.
And again, it's not about people looking at the photo, it's about you being positively identified by machine. It's much more difficult to fool a machine (with the right data) than it is a person.
Yes, of course the picture is still important, but if it was just the picture and manual appraisal, they would probably be less strict about the expression, background, glasses etc, as the officers would probably prefer to have pictures that resembled you as you normally look, much as they used to do before biometric passports came alone.
It's true, I don't travel that much. Do the immigration officers ask you to take off hats, glasses and comb back your hair so that they can make an accurate appraisal of whether you resemble the picture? If not, then the picture is of limited use.
But conversely, if you travel to a country that does have the equipment, the biometric data will probably be read off the passport and recorded in a database that LEOs have access to, so that if you are picked up dead, or infringing the law, they can make a more positive identification of you. Biometric data is less than perfect, but the basic map of the face can give useful information, and it is much more accurate if the face is not obstructed and in the same orientation as the picture.
BTW. If your wife's passport is a non-biometric one (and I'm making a big assumption that it's a UK passport), it is probably close to needing to be renewed.
"but if it was just the picture and manual appraisal, they would probably be less strict about the expression, background, glasses etc"
This not the first time ( or indeed 2nd or 3rd) I've taken our passport photos - most of the requirements as to quality/background etc were in place long before biometric passports but at least the photos in the passports were recognisable.
You're quite correct my wife's passport is due for renewal soon
The reason everyone looks like a mugshot in a passport photo is because you're commanded to do the same things - look directly at the camera, do not smile - and they use the same plain white background to highlight your face. It's intentional: the object in both cases is to make you easily recognisable from the photo.
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I've never had any trouble understanding amanfrommars1. Indeed, I have always liked the way they talk in accurate and informationally complete terms rather than through the layer of underlying social assumptions one must accept in order to understand most people's posts here.
> I doubt that any of our police forces would say that.
Oh, I don't know. A few weeks ago, the PSNI posted on their Facebook page that they'd found the five small bags of class-A drugs someone had lost at a club and the owner could turn up at their nearest police station to claim them back.
The fugitive, Daniel Damon, is wanted by Australian state of Victoria for "failing to answer bail for traffic and drug matters". That sounds like he's really wanted for nothing. Nothing unusual about that: The local governments are squeezing some cash out of its citizens. The situation is so common we don't even challenge it. It's a way of life in the English speaking countries. The worst is the US, of course, but Australia and the UK are good copy cats. The police even joke about their kidnapping/ransom scam. Ho ho. It's so funny.