No one really knows how to take the best passport photos. To smile, or not to smile? It’s a question we all ask ourselves, but usually not until we’re half a second from that snap of the camera which will define our official “look” for the next ten years. The result? We tend to look confused, undecided, and in some cases, mildly criminal.
Click through the gallery below for ten passport photos which look like they were taken in the clink, and the crimes the “offenders” look like they committed.
(Sorry, but if you post your passport photo on Flickr under the creative commons license, you are kind of asking for this):
You can avoid this fate. While most of us go to the local drug store or the post office to get the picture done (we want to make sure all the guidelines are met), you can take the passport photo in the comfort of your own home. Here are the official passport photo guidelines (via travel.state.gov):Proper Lighting Arrangement
- Position light sources on both sides of subject to avoid shadows on face.
- Use a light source to illuminate background behind subject to avoid
- shadows in background.
- Place camera approximately 4 ft (120 cm) from the subject.
- Have camera at subject’s eye level.
- Position subject facing the camera.
Photograph Print Properties
- Produce 2 inch x 2 inch (51 mm x 51 mm) color photo.
- Print photo on thin photo paper or stock.
- Ensure the print is clear and has a continuous tone quality.
- Do not retouch or otherwise enhance or soften photo.
7 Steps to Successful Photos
- Frame subject with full face, front view, eyes open.
- Make sure photo presents full head from top of hair to bottom of chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 13⁄8 inch (25 mm to 35 mm).
- Center head within frame (see Figure 2 in the pdf linked above).
- Make sure eye level is between 11⁄8 inch and 13⁄8 inch (28 mm and 35 mm) from bottom of photo.
- Photograph subject against a plain white or off-white background.
- Position subject and lighting so that there are no distracting shadows on the face or background.
- Encourage subject to have a natural expression.
Further instructions and a handy diagram can be found in the government pdf.
[Top image by mexican 2000 via Flickr, other images in gallery as credited.]