The How To Guide On Taking The Perfect Passport Photo

The end of the school year is in sight, meaning no more tests and assignments, waking up for that 8:00 AM class, or trying to read an entire novel in one night. It also means TRAVEL SEASON IS NEAR (if you are lucky enough to afford it). The best part of summer vacation is the challenge we all take on to fit every single fun bucket list item we can within the months of freedom we are given. Bon voyage! 

However, before travelling you must make sure that all your legal documents and affairs are in order. This obviously includes a valid passport. While checking the validity of your passport, you may realize that it is time to get a new one. This also means a new passport photo 😱. I was recently this person and I opted for the TEN YEAR RENEWAL, which means I’d have to be looking at this photo of me for the next decade. Needless to say, I wanted this photo to be the hottest mug shot I’ve ever taken.

It’s really hard to achieve a decent looking piece of government ID and no matter what you do, that harsh light and poor timing is going to affect the outcome (Is it just me or do they always take the photo on 2?); but there are some things you can do to prevent the cringeworthy picture from making you look like a squirrel post mortem!

1. Wash your hair and wear it down.

Yes, I have to tell you to wash your hair because far too many times have I said to myself “It’s just an ID photo, I don’t need to shower” and regretted it HARD. Just be clean okay 😘. Also, make sure your hair is down. “But I look good with my hair up“…but do you look good as a bald British man, because that is exactly what you’ll look like without a little bit of hair around your face. The angle the photo is taken at is not exactly going to highlight your fishtail or high pony.

2. Wear make-up, but not too much.

This is the mistake I made in my most recent passport photo (will post photo below). I was determined to get the best picture possible, so I threw on a full face of make-up. Where I went wrong was the eye make-up. It doesn’t look terrible in the picture but it is very obvious that I was trying hard to get a good photo. You also want to be recognizable in the airport and chances are you don’t get extremely dolled up to sit on a plane for 3 hours. Just use a good primer, some foundation, bronzer, blush, mascara, a little eyeliner and a lip colour that is one or two shades darker than your natural lip.

3. Go for the matte finish.

I know I already said not to use too much make-up, but I just want to make sure you don’t go in there with your highlight on point…literally do not highlight at all. That shimmer will be the only thing you notice in your photo since they literally blind you with their flash at the photo booth. I mean, if you’re into the glowing vampire look…then go for it; but otherwise, stay clear.

4. Wear a shirt that contrasts with your hair colour.

If you’re blonde, wear a dark shirt. If you’re brunette, wear a light shirt (not a white one though because it may get denied). It will just frame your face better and won’t look like your hair awkwardly disappears into your outfit.

5. Spend the money to take it somewhere decent.

This is another mistake I made. Being a broke student, I opted for the cheapest place I could find. I’m talking, I literally had to walk down three flights of stairs to some creepy underground swap market that sold 1 dollar shoes and knock off deodorant in the same bin. Luckily, the passport office accepted the photo…but they don’t always. Afterwards, I learned that just because they say they can take passport photos, does not necessarily mean they are valid ones and you won’t get your money back ! The quality of the photo itself is also much worse than the average priced ones. You have to look at this picture for the next 5-10 years, just spend the extra 5 bucks.

6. Tilt your head slightly down and smile with your eyes.

The camera is often elevated, but don’t let that make you feel the need to lift your chin. This will make your features look larger! Also, I know you can’t actually smile but try to raise your eyes or “smile with your eyes” so that it doesn’t look like an actual mug shot.

My photo was not perfect…and I learned from my mistakes. However, it is the best piece of government photo ID I’ve take so far, so that is a win in my books!

The finished product:


(notice WAY too much eye shadow was not my best decision)

One thought on “The How To Guide On Taking The Perfect Passport Photo

  1. Interesting ritual haha
    It’s always important to put some thought into the passport photo – or any other document – or you’ll have to explain it (if it’s an interesting one) for some years

    Liked by 1 person

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