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Iggy Azalea, Australian pop star, gets passport photos taken by Ottawa photographer

07/14/2015 04:37 EDT | Updated 07/14/2016 05:59 EDT
Ryszard Mrugalski swears he didn't initially know the identity the young woman who walked into his Centretown photo studio Saturday afternoon and asked, in an Australian accent, for her passport photo.

It was only afterwards that Mrugalski realized he'd photographed an Ottawa Bluesfest headliner and one of the biggest global pop stars of the past few years: Fancy singer Iggy Azalea.

"Around noon I got a phone call. Some gentleman asked me for a passport photo. And he mentioned he was with a VIP," Mrugalski, who runs Zoom Exposure on Bank Street, told CBC Ottawa on Tuesday.

That was all they revealed to him, said Mrugalski — not who the subject of the photo shoot would be.

'She was quite serious' 

At around 4 p.m., two gentlemen and "one pretty lady" showed up at his studio, just as he was closing. Mrugalski asked her to have a seat.

"She was quite serious, let's say reserved," said Mrugalski. "I asked her to look, let's say, soft and friendly."

The photo shoot was fairly uneventful, and afterwards Mrugalski reasoned that — since Bluesfest was in town — his mysterious VIP subject might have been one of the performers.

After visiting the festival's website, he quickly concluded that it was in fact Azalea, Saturday night's main stage headliner. So he bought a ticket and headed down to LeBreton Flats to see her perform.

"It was real great! She is cool. I know a little bit of rap from my past," said Mrugalski.

Next day, Mrugalski's son showed him what Azalea had tweeted about her passport photo experience and he posted the tweets on his studio's website. That's when CBC News heard about the story and contacted Mrugalski.


Azalea's response left Mrugalski, who took up photography professionally after coming to Canada from Poland 28 years ago, positively beaming.

"It was a compliment for sure," he said. "I try always to apply my skills, even for simple passport photos."

As for why the Australian-born Azalea would get her photo taken in Ottawa: Mrugalski said he's certified to take passport photos for countries around the globe, not just Canada.

Azalea didn't have to leave her name, either, said Mrugalski. But even if she did, it probably wouldn't have helped spur any recognition — Azalea's real name is Amethyst Amelia Kelly.

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