Where to get a digital passport photo

We all know the business of organising a passport: collecting the forms from the post office, sweating and cursing as you fill in all the minutiae of detail that the authorities need in order to issue this important document.

The photo must be right

One of the most important details is the photo, which must be exactly right. Previously this required a family outing to a suitable photography studio and everyone wearing a dark coloured top, the latter to allow the camera to pick out facial details for posterity. Then would come the chore of trying to get small children and babies to sit still without moving, unsmiling, but also not crying, wriggling off their seat or looking at mum or dad (unless mum or dad are standing right behind the camera).

In short, getting passport photos used to be something of a trial; time consuming, anxiety-creating and expensive. These days, it is much easier to get passport photos taken. It is even possible to take perfectly acceptable photographs yourself, saving time and money.

Taking your own photos

Taking your own photos is very easy these days, when most smartphones contain excellent quality cameras. You can take the picture yourself using a timer feature if your phone offers one, or you can get a friend to snap it for you. Just bear in mind the rules for acceptable passport photos: they must show your head, shoulders and upper body. Do not crop the photo to the same size as the one in your current passport as the passport office will do that when they are laying out your new document – over cropping does not leave them enough to work with. As well as having a neutral expression on your face, you should also make sure that your face is not obscured by any headwear or your hair. It is best to remove glasses too, as the glare from the light on the lenses can obscure your face and make the photograph one that will not be acceptable to the passport office.

If you don’t trust yourself with the business end of a camera, there are still studios that will take pictures for you, and the price is very reasonable. Thanks to the wonders of digital cameras, your photos are ready instantly, or very nearly, and you can ask for a physical set of photos, or digital versions. The latter can be emailed to you, or saved onto a disc or flash drive enabling you to submit an entirely electronic passport application form.

Photo: Selfie by camilla_baier licensed under Creative commons 2

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