One of the first concrete steps in planning an international trip is obtaining a passport. That is assuming you want to avoid time spent in a cramped cell somewhere. Filling out the form and paying a small fortune are the easy two steps of the trifecta needed to be successful in obtaining your passport. The third step, providing a passport photo, seems easy enough at first but upon further investigation becomes a challenge like unto stepping foot on the moon. When you've mastered it you'll feel as if a giant leap for mankind has just occurred.
Now for a look at the details. The United States Dept. of State is kind enough to provide a webpage to help 'simplify' things for us common folk. One of the listings addresses 'Pose and Expression'. It states "[a] neutral expression is preferred; a natural smile is acceptable". Since when did humanity decide that smiling is only 'acceptable' and the 'preferred' expression is something akin to a human screen saver mode? So when going in to your local photo shop to get your picture taken try to put yourself in the appropriate mood by imagining that you're happy but constipated and bored at the same time. That should do the trick. If you still don't look neutral enough then get the photographer to whack you in the head with a foam bat and you should be able to pull off that dazed look quite well.
A few of the other regulations they have regarding your photo might be harder to overcome. Apparently if your head is too small you're out of luck and can say goodbye to any dreams of seeing the world. The government also seems to have a new initiative designed to find any toddler terrorist agents wanting to travel and using a pacifier as disguise. If you happen to be one or have one of those, sorry but they're on to you. As you can see in the pictures below they've already found and rejected the applications of a very suspicious looking young man and an unfortunately small headed woman.
Now that you know what to do and what to avoid doing you're on your way to seeing the world with your very own passport in hand. Just remember keep that dazed, constipated expression on your face like this gentleman below and you'll be getting your own green checkmark of approval in no time. Bon voyage!