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How To Take Your Own Passport Photos At Home

Here's ePHOTOzine's guide to creating passport images at home, with tips on taking, cropping and printing your images.

|  Portraits and People
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Camera and passport

The dreaded photo booth in a supermarket or bus station is something we've all faced in our time but you can avoid using them by simply taking your own passport photos at home. Plus, as printing passport photo size prints from one of these machines costs at least a fiver, you'll be saving yourself quite a bit of money should you need passport photos for the whole family.

To be able to capture your shots at home, you need to follow the guidelines from the Government, capture your images against a plain wall, perform a little Photoshop magic and print your images, at the correct size, on the right type of paper. Below, we'll talk you through each step so you can learn how to shoot your own passport photos quickly and with ease from the comfort of your own home.

You can use the below bullet points to navigate to specific points in the guide:


Make Your Own Passport Photos - The Rules

The Identity and Passport Service check all photographs against their photo checking template. It is used to ensure there is sufficient distance between key facial features which they use as points to create a facial biometric.

To ensure your images (two must be submitted) pass this, you need to follow the below guidelines.


Passport Photo Checker Photo Size

The images submitted must measure 45mm high by 35mm wide and can not be a cut-down version of a larger photo. 

It's recommended that the face – from the bottom of the chin to the crown - is between 29mm and 34mm. Also, ensure there is a suitable distance between the edge of the picture and the subject's face and the photo must include the full head and upper shoulders. 


Photo Quality

Images which are enhanced will not be accepted as this can result in inaccurate biometric readings and the photos must have been taken in the last month of you sending your application in. 

Photos must be printed to a professional standard in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border. There can not be any tears or creases and they must be unmarked (unless a photo needs to be countersigned. 


Photo - Adult 

Eyes must be kept open, be clearly visible, with no red-eye and no matter how much you may like a smile, facial expressions must be neutral with the mouth closed. Ensure the subject is facing forward and looking straight at the camera and make sure there's no hair in front of their eyes. The head should not be covered (no hats) unless it's for religious or medical reasons, nothing should be covering the face and the photo must not contain any other objects or people. Portrait styles or shots where the head is tilted will not be accepted.

If the subject wears glasses, they can leave them on however, as reflections / glare can be created from flash, it's often easier to ask them to remove them. If the glasses are only worn for cosmetic reasons they should be removed from the start otherwise a biometric reading can not be acquired. Sunglasses and tinted glasses must also be removed. 

Photos must show the person's natural skin tone, be clear, sharp and in focus and light reflections or shadows should not be present on their face or background. The background must also be plain and light grey or cream, 5-10% grey is recommended. 


Photo - Child / Baby 

Children must be on their own in the picture and babies must not be holding toys or using dummies. If they're under the age of 6 they don't have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression and children under one don’t have to have their eyes open. If their head is supported by a hand, the hand must not be visible in the photo.

  So to clarify:

  • From the bottom of the chin to the crown should be between 29mm-34mm
  • Leave some space between the subject and the frame
  • Remove glasses
  • Eyes must be clear, open and have no red eye or reflections
  • The shot must be straight on and show the full face
  • The photograph must be sharp
  • The background must be plain and light grey or cream
  • Photo manipulation is not permitted


How Not To Take Your Passport Photos: 

How not to take passport photos

Make Your Own Passport Photos - Taking The Photo 

Here at ePHOTOzine, we took a white sheet and used grips to tightly fasten it to a background. The grips pulled the sheet to create an even surface perfect for passport photos to be taken against. Although, a white wall will work just as well and you can just work with daylight if you don't have studio lights to hand. 

If you're using flash, having your subject close to the background will stop the picture from being underexposed or dark. If you are using flash remember to watch out for red eye and reflections in glasses as these are not allowed to be on a passport photograph.


Taking photo


The picture was framed through the viewfinder and we took several images so we had a variety to choose from. They were taken at full resolution, although as the image size is only going to be small you can use a lower setting of around 640x480 pixels.

Out of camera shot

Before cropping to size


Make Your Own Passport Photos -Editing The Photograph

Once we decided on the chosen image we placed it into Photoshop to edit the size to meet the requirements of the Identity and Passport Service. This process is not manipulating the photograph, we didn't alter the light or any of the facial features just the size of the image. Before ensuring the image was the correct size by taking the following steps, we slightly cropped the bottom of the image to remove some of the body that's not required in the shot.


How To Size A Passport Photo In Photoshop 


1. Open the image in Photoshop.

2. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool and set the style to 'fixed size'. Next, set the height to 45mm (the maximum height the head can be) and the width to 35mm (the maximum width). 

Marquee tool

3. Click in the centre of the photograph and the shape will appear.

Marquee tool


4. Mark out four guides by selecting the 'Move' tool and dragging down / across from the rulers. If these aren't visible, go to View>Rulers to make them active.



Your guides need to follow the lines of the shape so place one at the top of the shape, one at the bottom and then one either side. Deselect the Marquee tool (Select>Deselect) and now you have guides which your subject has to fit into.




5. Before you go any further, duplicate the background layer so if you mess-up you have the original to return to. Tod this, go to Layer>Duplicate Layer or drag the layer in the layer panel to the 'new layer' icon. 


Duplicate the layer

6. Now, Scale the image so the head of the subject fits into the guides. To do this you go to Edit, Free Transform, Scale and hold shift while you move the image with the corner handles. Once your image is adjusted hit enter to apply the changes.

Free transform


7. Crop the image out of the background to remove excess space. You can set the width and height of the crop in the toolbar at the top of the screen. Set the width to 35mm and the height to 45mm (the maximum size for the photograph) and line the crop up with the guides. Hit enter and your image will be resized to fit the guides. 

Crop tool



8. Check the size of the image. You can do this by selecting the Canvas Size option.


Canvas size

9. Once you're happy with the image print it twice so you have two identical images to send off. Remember the photos must be printed on high quality, photographic paper to a quality level that can be classed as 'professionally printed'. If you are at all worried get a professional to do it as they're more likely to be rejected by the passport office if printed at home. If you are going to try printing at home, ensure you print at the best possible resolution and ignore any prompts to resize the page. Once printed, do check the size of the prints with a ruler then cut them out ready to send off. The two photos must remain separate to each other and not attached to your application. 


Final photo


PersoFoto Create Your Passport Photo Online For Free

If you don't have Photoshop on your computer, there are various online editors that will resize your images for free. When we did an online search for 'resize image passport size online' the top three results came up as: 

1. PersoFoto

2. IDPhoto4You


All of them are pretty straightforward to use and produce results quickly (the image to the right was created with PersoFoto). Gimp is also free to use although, this isn't an online application and has to be downloaded. 



Use An App On Your Phone 

In the iTunes app store there's a free app called PassportPhoto that has an inbuilt guide for capturing a passport images with your iPhone. It's a doddle to use but it will cost you £3.99 to order your prints through the app. For those with Android devices, there's the Passport ID Photo Maker Studio


Passport Photo app

This guide was written with guidelines correct for 2016, but remember the details may change so always check with the Identity and Passport Service before submitting your photos.

Enjoy your holiday!

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