Passport photos are an essential component of securing your passport. I first posted this article in March of 2014. Here is an updated version to meet Federal application guidelines. Click here to see my original post.
PASSPORT PHOTOS ARE AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF SECURING YOUR PASSPORT. I FIRST POSTED THIS ARTICLE IN MARCH OF 2014. HERE IS AN UPDATED VERSION TO MEET FEDERAL APPLICATION GUIDELINES.
• Do go to the official government website and read the detailed list of passport photo guidelines.
• Do adhere to recent changes, for example you cannot wear glasses for your image. This applies to all types of ID photos. I wear my glasses all the time, but had to take them off for a recent Driver’s License update. With today’s guidelines, the image above (taken in 2014) would not comply since I have my glasses on in the photo.
• Do go to an official approved photographer to have your picture taken. While some places may advertise they “take passport photos”, they may or may not do them according to the required specifications. There is nothing worse than waiting for your passport to arrive only to get your application returned because your photo was rejected. If you’re not sure, ask them how many photographs they have taken that have been returned and rejected. Also, I wasn’t aware until recently that studio’s and other locations that take passport photos regularly go through a review process by the government to make sure they comply to the parameters and guidelines outlined for photographs. Ask if they have passed this review recently.
• Do make sure you follow the guidelines for appropriate clothing. A simple, solid color long sleeve shirt in a mid-tone to dark color is best. No strapless or low necklines work best. Keep it simple.
• Do have the photographer print you a couple of extra pictures if possible. You only need one for your passport application, but it’s always good to have an ID style photo available for other needs such as an international driver’s licence.
• Don’t try to take your own photograph unless you have the equipment necessary to make it right. The guidelines are listed on the website but they are beyond the typical photographic and equipment abilities of the average person. Most people do not have the ability to create an all-white background with no shadows and a back-light. You cannot digitally alter the image in any way, and most home digital photo printers do not use a paper that works with the passport printing process. Leave this to a professional.
• Don’t wear any scarves, hats or head gear unless it is required for your religious beliefs. This includes ear phones or other electronic accessories. If you wear these items for religious or medical needs, you must submit a personal statement (religious/cultural) or a doctors note (medical) with your application.
• Don’t wear neck scarves or turtle neck sweaters. Your neck and chin must be exposed in the photo.
• Don’t wear dark or tinted glasses that obstruct your eyes.
• Don’t wear all white. Don’t wear a uniform or camouflage.
• Don’t do any big cheesy grins or funny facial expressions. This is a government ID photograph not a Facebook or Instagram post for your friends.
Where to get your passport photos
Where to get your passport photo taken has also changed since my original post six years ago. Use Google in your area to see what pops up – but ALWAYS call first to confirm. Here is a few options of locations that provide passport photos:
- Shipping centers such FedEx and UPS offices. Always call first to confirm.
- Membership stores such as Costco (some locations).
- Pharmacies & Retail Stores (after confirming they are using Federal approved guidelines)
- Professional Photography Studios – my first and favorite choice.
- U.S. Passport Office – usually found at County Courthouse locations.
However, I had my original photographs taken by my friend Gordon Leigh from Positive Negatives in Hood River. Even though I have now moved from the Hood River area, I know he is still there taking great passport photos. If you’re in the Hood River area, check it out. https://www.facebook.com/PhotoRef/info . (541-386-2160 or 877-580-4543)
In closing, with the passport photo in your hand, you can now move on to the next step of applying for your passport. Don’t be sucked in by ads by non-government businesses. It is simple and fully outlined for you here.
Your passport is the key to exploring the world. And, while you are applying for your passport, DO request a wallet sized passport ID as well. A few extra dollars – but so useful when traveling or applying for other types of Government services.
Hopefully, this short list of Passport Photo Do and Don’t tips has helped you during your passport application process.
I will be using my passport of a month long trip through Canada later this year. Where is your passport taking you?