The COVID-19 pandemic has begotten a deluge of changes to our way of life. Many are positive and well-received, many are not. One thing that is definitely welcomed, though, is the linearisation of administrative procedures, more specifically the incorporation of online platforms. The passport-making process is among those that experience this nascent trend first-hand.
Gone are the days when people find themselves in the endless lines at embassies longing for their turn to take a quick snap for a passport photo. Online submission has been implemented, both to reduce the overcrowded situation usually found at embassies (prior and maybe after the pandemic), and to cope with the status quo.
However, while governments have been prompted to cope with the pandemic as well as the ceaseless demands for passports (and visa, for that matter), not everyone has been as adept to cope. Taking some mere pictures is just a measly task, you may think. While that is true indeed, taking pictures that are eligible for a passport (or visa), is anything but.
In this article below we will show you how to take proper pictures for your passport. All you need is your phone and some attention to details. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
How to Take Your Passport Photo at Home – Step by Step Guide
Here’s a quick and simple guide on how to take a picture for your passport at home!
Here’s what you should be doing:
- Sit down on a stool or stand up straight (depends on which is more comfortable to you) in front of a white background. If you don’t have a white wall inside, you can also consider taking your picture outside, but be mindful of the lighting and shading. If you can’t find any white background around, you should get a large piece of paper, or a white wallpaper and tape its corner to your wall. Make sure that it is large enough so that its edges don’t appear in the eventual photo. Don’t try to tinker with the photo after you take it. Digitally photos aren’t accepted.
- Lighting should be a matter of concern. The catch is to not let any shadow make into the frame.
- In order to achieve that, your room should be a well-lighted room. Turning on all the light in the room, while opening the windows to let some natural light in should be sufficient. If you find that some shadowy areas are still present, you could consider using a smartphone’s flashlight (or flashlights if need be). A ring flash if readily available would be of great help.
- If you plan to take your photo outside, avoid sunny hours and direct sunlight as those will likely cause shadows. In any case, use flashes if you need to.
- Use a tripod to stabilise your device. Even a professional camera can’t help you if whoever is taking the photo has shaky hands.
- Take off your glasses, hats, ornaments, etc. If your hair is long, lift or fix it up. Remove all makeup (if you wear any). There shouldn’t be anything that obstructs the clear view of your face. Head covering is allowed only for proven religious reasons.
- Wear a collared T-shirt, a chemise, or a blouse for formality. Remember to adjust your clothes as well.
- If you don’t have anyone to help you with taking the photo, you should set your phone (or camera) up with a timer of 10 seconds, so that you have enough time to get into position for the shot and that your device has time to focus properly.
Snap A Shot
Remember to hold a neutral facial expression and look directly at the camera. You shouldn’t be smiling or frowning or showing any expression at all. Once the preparation is done, this should be straightforward.
Crop to The Requirements
Crop, as in cut the picture to size! Do not edit them in any way, leave them as is. Only crop it to the size requirements, which is 2 x 2 in (51 x 51 mm). There are a number of websites that help with this:
- Target passport photos
- Walmart passport photos
Just follow the instructions of these sites and you’d get the photo of the correct sizes in no time.
Photo Requirements with Photo Examples and Explanations
No matter how careful you might be, there’s a chance that a few flaws will fall through the cracks. In order to be sure of the quality of your photo once you have it taken, it’s best that you go through all of the requirements once more just to make sure. Below, we summarise the image requirements (taken from the U.S. Department of State — Bureau of Consular Affairs’s website and the United Kingdom public sector information website - GOV.uk) with examples, so you don’t make the same mistakes.
Shadow and Lighting
The photos above are not accepted due to a couple of reasons: unclear photo, inaccurate colour rendering, and shadows. In order for your photos to be accepted, it should be bright and clear in colour while showing the tone of your skin properly with no shadows. The photos below are accepted.
Any glasses aren’t allowed, even if you wear them on a daily basis. Take them off before taking your photo. Photos like the ones below are not accepted:
Size and Position
A proper photo should be 1.8 inches high and 1.4 inches wide, or 45 x 35 mm (the standard UK size). Your head must be positioned in the centre of the photo. You can see the guide below.
The photos below aren’t accepted, as they are flawed in a few different ways: face is too near the camera, face is too far from the camera, the full head isn’t in the photo, the face isn’t centred in the photo.
A proper photo with proper head position should look like the ones below:
Quality and Resolution
The photo should not be of low quality and resolution. Normally it shouldn’t happen if you’re taking your photo with a professional camera, but problems could arise during the rendering process. The photos are not accepted for they are blurry and grainy.
A proper photo should be clear, sharp without any visible pixels or printer dots, like the one below:
Digital alterations are not accepted in any way. The following photos are not accepted because they have been digitally retouched in some way, like cropping out the background, or squeezing the body figure to appear thinner.
The photo below is accepted because it hasn’t undergone any digital alteration.
Pose and Expression
You should be sitting or standing straight, looking directly at the camera, and keeping a neutral facial expression. If you have your head tilted or rotated or not looking directly at the camera, then your photo will not be accepted, like the photo below:
Proper photos should see applicants facing the camera directly with visible eyes and a neutral expression or natural smile, like these below:
Attire, Hair, and Hats
Do not let your face be covered by any piece of clothes, garments, ornaments, or hair. These photos below are not accepted because the applicant’s face is obscured in some way due to hair or attire:
Hats and head coverings can be accepted, provided that the face is still clearly visible in the photo without any shadow or obscurity, and a signed statement of religious practice or medical purposes is attached. This photo below is accepted:
Background should be plain, white or off-white, with no shadow, people, or objects, like this one below:
The photos below are not accepted because of backgrounds not meeting the requirements:
Children aged five and below aren’t required to have a natural facial expression or look at the camera directly. Infants under a year old aren’t required to open their eyes. If the child’s head needs support then the supporting hands must not be visible. In addition, all other photo requirements apply.
An accepted photo should look like the one above. The ones below won’t be accepted, however, as the face is obscured or the supporting hands are visible.