These Passport Photo Shoots Reveal a Bizarre Twist When You Zoom Out

Funny Photo Shoot by Max Siedentopf

Passport photos are some of the most mundane types of portraits you can have taken. They come with a lot of restrictions. You have to look straight at the camera, wear a neutral facial expression, and be positioned against a clear background without a shadow—just to name a few. Because of these constraints, it seems like it’d be impossible to add any sort of creativity to the images. But as photographer Max Siedentopf shows, you can spice up any seemingly boring passport photoshoot as long as you do it off-camera.

Through his project called Passport Photos, Siedentopf abides by the rules of these official portraits while having some fun (outside of the frame) at the same time. His pictures feature folks as they stand towards the camera engaging in odd and often outrageous things. In one photo, a man is wrapped in a paper table cloth, tinsel, and balloons. Another portrait shows a woman holding a landscape painting that she’s just punched her fist through. And in one of the most surprising images, a stoic man stands face to face with a roaring blaze. Accompanying these bizarre photos are cropped versions of the subjects' heads that comply with all passport photo restrictions.

Siedentopf's inspiration for this series came from his own experience of renewing his passport. “While sitting in front of the camera and keeping a straight face,” he recalls to My Modern Met, “I was wondering how something so dull could be ‘tricked’ and get some more excitement into the whole process of passport photography.”

Siedentopf set up the resulting photoshoot but didn’t tell his subjects about the “excitement” they were walking into; everyone thought they were arriving to have an ordinary picture taken. “A few people that had to do the more extreme ideas were told beforehand because I had to make sure they would be ok with it,” he explains, “however, all seemed to take it as a positive and refreshing surprise. Luckily no one walked out but there sure were some people that questioned what we were doing.”

Scroll down to see some of the oddest passport pictures you’ve ever seen. For more of Siedentopf’s photography, be sure to follow him on Instagram.

Photographer Max Sidentopf spiced up boring passport portraits with a funny photoshoot.

Funny Photo Shoot by Max Siedentopf

When his subjects arrived to get their passport photos taken, they were surprised by these bizarre ideas.

Funny Photo Shoot by Max SiedentopfFunny Photo Shoot by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max Siedentopf

All of the action happened away from their faces. When Siedentopf cropped the images, they could still use them as an official passport photo.

Passport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfPassport Photos by Max SiedentopfBizarre Funny PhotosBizarre Funny PhotosBizarre Funny PhotosBizarre Funny PhotosWeird Portrait PhotographyWeird Portrait PhotographyWeird Portrait Photography

Max Siedentopf: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Max Siedentopf.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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