Can I take my own passport photo, or do I have to go to some licensed professional?
You can take your own photo as long as it conforms to the guidelines they give you with the application. Here in San Diego the guy at the Post Office who processes the applications will also take your picture for you. He just uses a regular Polaroid camera.
It looks like the State Department doesn’t have any problems with digital photos, provided that they meet the other requirements.
However, they do advise using a professional lab to print them.To ensure that a quality print is obtained, the image can be transferred to disk and taken to a photo lab to be printed. The equipment found in a photo lab will normally be capable of producing higher-quality photos and undergoes the frequent calibration and maintenance necessary for consistent results.
The guidelines for UK Passports can be seen here in a pdf file. I’m not sure of the guidelines for other countries.
From US Passport Site
Don’t you guys have those coin operated passport photo booths in shopping malls? They were everywhere here in the 70s and 80s, but there are still a few around. These qualify as taking your own photo, I guess. I think these mostly disappeared because you can go to a chemist or photo shop and get them done for about the same price, and the person there does them every day, so you are less likely to get one which is deemed unacceptable.
FTR, the Australian passport photo rules seem very similar to the US ones posted by FatBaldGuy, although I did like the bit about the standard-sized head you’re supposed to have.
The site I linked to specifically says:
When I renewed my Australian passport a few years ago, I used a professional photographer in the US to take the photos. Presumably they would hasve been acceptable as US passport photos, but they weren’t acceptable to the Australian Embassy in Washington, so I had them redone (at no charge). (And I was in a foreign country without a current passport for about a week, but that didn’t cause any problem).
Oddly, the requirements for photos for the US green card (permanent resident card) are significantly different. If you wear glasses, you must take them off for the photo, and it’s not full face, but with the face looking somewhat to the side. I don’t understand why two different ID photograph requirements for the federal government are different in these ways.
Not only did I take my own passport photo, but I photoshopped it (just to replace the background and subtly adjust the colors) and printed it. As a result I have a unique passport photo that actually looks like me, and also looks great.
What about extreme changes in appearance? When I got my passport a few years back, I had a goatee down to near my beltline (ZZ Top). Since then I have shaved it off. I know women who routinely change their hair color and style to the point where they are almost not recognizable. /hijack
Ooops. Shouldn’t say hijack in a passport thread, sorry!
My experience is that they don’t examine it that closely anyway, plus they expect a lot of people to change certain things.
You should travel with me sometime to view the opposite side of that coin.
Not only have I done the photos for several American passports and green cards in my family, taking many shots and editing them to perfection, but I also seem to be the official photographer for Brazilian passports in our circle of friends.
The interesting feature of a Brazilian passport photo is that they want you to write the date on a piece of paper and put it in front of the person, like a mug shot. They clearly state that you can’t edit in the date electronically. I usually print it in a huge font from Word and pin it to the happy subject’s shirt.
good results, and they size it for you
I not only snapped my own passport photo, I Photoshopped a right ear out of a flopped left ear after my actual, physical right ear failed to show up in the shot. I’ve since gotten into Canada and Denmark and out again misrepresenting my own ears.
Now this is interesting… I remember reading a while back about how they didn’t want you to smile in passport photos anymore. I even found a reference to the new wording: “The subject’s expression should be neutral (non-smiling) with both eyes open, and mouth closed. A smile with a closed jaw is allowed but is not preferred”.
But the current version on the passport site just says a natural expression is: “The subject’s expression should be natural, with both eyes open. Please refer to the photographs found on this website for acceptable facial expressions.” Everything about the smiling was deleted! Must have backtracked on that one.
I did my own picture for my UK passport. I first tried Walgreens but their system automatically resized the photo to US requirements which didn’t meet the UK requirements. I think the distance from my chin to the top of my head was 1mm too small.
I did my own photo for my UK passport renewal and it was rejected, even though (as far as I could tell) it met all of the very stringent requirements. My subsequent re-application was then given the fine-tooth-comb, to the extent of contacting my referees and questioning them at length to verify my identity.
My father took my latest passport photo for me; it was with a 35mm camera and he did take it to a store to be developed and printed. He got the head size in the right range and no problems.
I shot the photo for my wife’s passport renewal. Used bounce flash with a neutral wall for a background.
Resized and printed on my Epson 960 inkjet.
Passport issued and has the best photo she’s ever had in a passport.