Bad Passport Pictures: What Makes Them Bad and How to Avoid Them

Passport photos are a necessary evil. They are the gateway to our travels, but often times the photos turn out…well, bad. A bad passport picture can be downright embarrassing, but more than that, it can cause unnecessary delays and additional expenses when it comes to getting your passport. Here is what you need to know to avoid a less-than-flattering passport photo.

Key Takeaways

  • A bad passport photo can lead to delays and additional expenses when it comes to getting your passport.
  • The most common mistakes that create bad passport pictures include poor lighting, bad framing, facial expression, and inappropriate clothing.
  • Prior to taking your photo, pay attention to the lighting, framing, and expressions you display. Also wear appropriate clothes and avoid overdoing the makeup.
  • Improper resizing, cropping or submitting an old photo may cause your passport application to be rejected.
  • Consider enlisting the help of a professional photographer who has experience in taking passport photos in order to avoid common mistakes.

Lighting is Key

One of the most common mistakes that lead to bad passport pictures is poor lighting. Harsh overhead lighting can create shadows on your face, making you look tired or even like a criminal. The best lighting is natural daylight, so try to take your photo near a window, outdoors, or with a ring light. If you do have to use artificial lighting, make sure it’s a soft and diffused light source.

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Framing is Critical

Framing is another important aspect to consider when taking your passport photo. A bad framing can result in your photo being rejected. You should center your face in the photo, and ensure that your head, from the crown to the chin, is within the frame. When taking a photo at home, use a tripod and timer to ensure the camera is steady and level, and check the distance between the camera and yourself.

Facial Expression is Important

Many people make the mistake of either expressing too much or too little when taking passport photos. You should aim for a neutral expression, where you are not smiling, frowning, or displaying any exaggerated expressions. A relaxed and natural look is best. Keep your mouth closed and try to look straight ahead, without tilting or turning your head in any way.

Dress Appropriately

Clothing is another key factor to consider before taking your passport photo. Follow the guidelines of your country’s passport agency, which usually involve avoiding clothing that is too revealing or too casual. To avoid too much glare, it’s best to avoid wearing glasses with lenses that can reflect light or wearing jewelry that may shine too brightly under the lights.

Editing is Important

While it may be tempting to edit your passport photo to make yourself look better, be careful not to overdo it. Passport photos are meant to be realistic representations of ourselves. Editing or retouching the photo in any way may cause the application to be rejected.

Use a Professional Service

If you’re feeling unsure about taking your own passport photo, consider using a professional service. Many photo studios or drug stores offer this service. With their experience and guidance, you can avoid the potential for errors and ensure that your photo meets all necessary requirements.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I wear glasses in my passport photo?

A. It depends on the guidelines of your country’s passport agency. Some agencies allow glasses with certain restrictions, but others may require no glasses at all.

Q. Can I smile in my passport photo?

A. No, it is best to keep a neutral expression for your passport photo.

Q. Can I submit an old photo for my passport?

A. No, your photo must be current and represent your current appearance. Using an old photo may cause your application to be rejected.

Q. Can I use Photoshop to edit my passport photo?

A. No, any editing or retouching of your passport photo may cause your application to be rejected.

About the Author

Clifford Thompson

Clifford is a 33-year-old Asian-American travel blogger based in Seattle, Washington. He has a degree in computer science and has traveled to over 30 countries across six continents. Clifford is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares his knowledge and insights on the blog. His articles are informative and engaging, providing readers with practical advice and recommendations for international travel.

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