How to take the perfect passport photo

Passport Photo

Passport photos don’t have to be embarrassing. Source: Shutterstock

PASSPORT photos have long been an embarrassing subject for many people. 

You hope and you pray yours won’t be the worst or the oldest and do everything in your power to avoid snarky comments.

Such as “Wow, you’ve put on weight since this was taken,” or the classic, “Hey, the nineties called, and they want their hairstyle back.”

Yes, thanks Janet – people do change.

Passport photos can also be hard to get right as the rules are constantly changing. As Australia just demonstrated, with its recent ban on glasses being worn in passport photos.

“Thick rimmed glasses can affect arrivals SmartGate’s ability to compare your image with your ePassport photograph, so it is better to remove them, if possible,” the Department of Home Affairs’ website states.

The no-glasses rule is a common practice for most nations, and there’s a long list of other rules to follow too including:

  • No red eye
  • Plain white or dark grey background
  • No shadows or reflections
  • Hair off the face
  • Closed mouth and open eyes
  • A natural expression – don’t smile, laugh or look candid

All these rules go against the innate knowledge of “the selfie” that millennials now seem to be born with.

So, how can you ensure your passport photo is as beautiful as you are?

What to wear

It may sound silly because it’s predominantly a photo of your face, but what shows around your neck and shoulders is crucial.

Wearing a thick turtleneck may make your face look disproportionately huge. But then wearing a strapless top will earn you a few raised eyebrows.

Also, don’t wear the same clothes as you did in your last passport picture. If the images are too similar, they could be rejected by the passport agencies.

Makeup is your best friend

Ladies, and gents if you so chose, get some makeup that compliments you.

Retouching photos in Photoshop or any other program is strictly forbidden by passport agencies, so you have to get it right the first time.

If you’re confident with makeup, pretend it’s your personal photo shoot. If you’re not sure about contouring and pallets, watch a basic YouTube tutorial and hey presto – anemic to glowing in three minutes.

Don’t do anything too drastic though; the border controller might suspect it’s not you.

Hairdos and don’ts (hair, hair)

It’s not advisable to get your passport photo taken a right after you’ve had a professional blow-dry.

Border control can’t discriminate against hairstyles, but if it’s drastically different, it could delay you.

As the above picture perfectly illustrates, you shouldn’t wear hair accessories or have hair covering your face

Pose, pose, pose

Channel your inner Tyra Banks with a smoldering smize – a smile with your eyes. Or base your look on Kate Moss’s high cheekbones and suck in those cheeks.

Most importantly, always make sure you’re happy with the photo, it’s going to be in your passport for the next ten years.