Project

Full Version: How to Take an Interesting Passport Photo

Max Siedentopf created a project about passport photos where the main events are happening outside the photo frame.

Photographs for IDs or applications are usually strictly regulated: the person that is being photographed should usually look straight into the camera, the photo should have a clear background without shadows; no hats, glare on the glasses, or smiles. This genre actually kills any opportunity for self-expression — that’s probably why people rarely show off the resulting photographs.

Max Siedentopf tried to argue these rules and introduce some variety by checking what else a person could be doing while they are being photographed for an ID.

Max Siedentopf

Photographer and director from Namibia, studied in Berlin, lives in Amsterdam. Publishes Ordinary Magazine and works for KesselsKramer communications agency. Exhibited his work in China, the US, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Italy.

— I recently had to renew my passport and of course also needed to get a new passport photo taken. While I was sitting in front of the camera, keeping a straight face I was thinking that being a passport photographer must be the most depressing career path as a photographer as the whole process is so restricted. That’s when I was thinking how you could trick the system and get some more excitement into the whole process while you take this boring photo.

I’m a very big admirer of Cattelan’s old work, but being taped to the wall is also a very classic and cheap drunk party trick, either reference works for me.

Thomas Ruff was one of the first people that showed the beauty and fascination of very dry and neutral, passport-like, portraits. I wonder what his subjects were doing in the background while they were looking so serious… maybe they were also taped to the wall or had vacuum cleaners on their nipples?

I wonder what his subjects were doing in the background while they were looking so serious… maybe they were also taped to the wall.

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Overall I think it’s healthy to poke fun at your idols. There is already enough work out there that takes itself very seriously, there is no need for me to contribute more.

My models were a wild mix of friends and strangers found on the street and the Internet. Given that everyone needs their passport photo taken I wanted to show all kinds of fun characters.

I couldn’t implement so many ideas due to timing, but they will find a place in some later work.

There is already enough work out there that takes itself very seriously, there is no need for me to contribute more.

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