How to take a good passport photo

How to take a good passport photo.Is it time for a new passport or visa? Instead of spending a lot of time and money at a photographer or settling for drug store or photo booth pictures, did you know you can take your own picture at home? All you need is a digital camera or a good smart phone camera. Then be sure to remember the following:

Background: It is important that the person stands out clearly from the background. Most countries require a plain white or grey background. Make sure no objects or other people are visible. Your clothes should also stand out; dark solid colors with sleeves are best.
Tip: Hang up a white sheet, whiteboard or poster board for instant background!

Lighting: A biometric photo must be evenly lit and show no shadows or bright spots on the person or background. The easiest way to achieve this is to place the person about 1 meter (3 feet) in front of a wall facing a window or other natural light. If you need to use artificial light, it should be indirect and from both sides.Field of view for a good passport photo.
Tip: If the light is coming from one side, put something on the dark side to reflect light back onto the face (white poster board, aluminum foil, car sun shade).

Position: Head position is very important. The person’s face and body must face straight into the camera, not tilted or turned. The camera should be at the person’s eye level. Leave room all around the face; the picture will be cropped later. Unfortunately, smiling, laughing, frowning or other expressions are not allowed, so keep your expression neutral.

Eyes: Your eyes must both be clearly visible. Make sure your hair is out of the way. If you wear eyeglasses you can wear them in the picture, however tinted lenses are not allowed; make sure the frames don’t hide your eyes and that there is no reflection.
Tip: To avoid glare, since you can’t tilt the head, tilt the glasses! Just pull up the earpieces a bit and tuck them into the hair.

Sample good uncropped passport photo with headscarf.Head coverings: Head coverings such as hats, caps or scarves on biometric photos are generally prohibited, however, may be allowed if it is something worn every day for religious reasons. In this case the full face must still be visible and not covered or placed in shadow.


Sample good uncropped passport photo.

These are the most important points you should consider when you want a correct photo for your passport, visa, green card, ID card, driver’s license, or other photo ID.

If you need more tips as well as examples of good and bad passport photos you can check out the article “ID Photo Tips – How to take a good ID photo“.

Do you have any good passport photo tips? Please share in the comments!


Source for images 1 & 2: Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. State Department

2 thoughts on “How to take a good passport photo

  1. Pingback: Why a pro photographer isn’t right for passport photos | Pic4Pass Blog

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