How to look good on a passport photo: Advice for men!

Find out how you can take your passport picture yourself at home. All you need is a smartphone and a photo editor for your passport or other professional document photos. You also need to know the guidelines for these types of photos. Take control of how you present yourself and make sure you choose the best shot.

Most official documents require a biometric photo. Although the name sounds complicated, we advise you to take the photo yourself. The photographer often does not have the time or opportunity to repeat the shot and choose the best one. Fortunately, technology and the benefits of the Internet come to the fore. See below to find out how to take a passport photo yourself that you can be proud to have in your passport application.

Passport Photos - Advice for men

What is a biometric photo?

Biometric photos are photographs that bring out the biometric features of the face. Every human being has unique features which, with the help of advanced identification equipment, can be recognized and assigned to a particular person. Biometric features of the face are, among others:

  • face shape
  • jawline and chin shape
  • nose and forehead shape
  • eye and eyebrow shape
  • ear and mouth shape
  • iris colour

Biometric features, also referred to more specifically as anthropometric features, include distances between the various parts of the face. For example, the distance between the eyes and the nose, between the eye line, the line of the nose, the mouth, the chin, and the distance between the eyes themselves.

What should a passport photo look like?

Strictly defined guidelines apply for passport photos. These range from the size of the photograph, to the acceptable facial expression, to the appropriate clothing. The most important of these are:

  • Photo size can vary for each individual country. It can be 2×2 inches for a US passport or 35×45 mm for most European Union countries.
  • A bright, uniform background with no shadows.
  • No glasses or head covering allowed to be worn. 
  • A neutral facial expression. No smiling or making faces.
  • Your face and body must be facing the camera directly.
  • Your eyes must be looking directly into the camera lens.
  • The head, neck and the upper shoulders must be visible in the frame.
  • The lips must be closed and the eyes must be open (the irises and pupils must be visible).
  • The photo must show the face with a visible jaw and temple line.

In addition to these guidelines, it is also necessary to make sure that your hair does not cover your face. If you wear corrective glasses, you can have them in your passport photo if you need a passport photo for any European Union countries. However, if you require a passport photo for the United States, be aware that wearing corrective glasses in the photo is prohibited. Make sure that your eyes are visible in the passport photo and that no light is reflected in the glasses. Head covering is prohibited. The exception to this is if you wear head covering due to religious reasons – but you must have a certificate from the religious community you belong to, else you will be asked to take it off for the photo.

Shirt or T-shirt? Tips on how to look good on a passport photo!

To begin with, it is worth stressing that there are no formal guidelines on choice of clothing in the passport photo. This means you can wear whatever you want in the photo. Well, at least in theory. In reality, however, you will save yourself a lot of stress and time if you take a few minutes to choose the right clothing, reducing the risk of your photo being rejected.

What should I wear for my passport photo?

Even if you take the picture with your smartphone, prepare for it like a professional session with a photographer. Wear a tidy, bright shirt. What colour should you choose? Blue, light pink, blue or beige are some of the most appropriate colours to choose. You may also wear a checked casual shirt, which is fastened right around the neck for ‘decency’ (or leave one button open). You can put on a jacket, but wearing a tie is not necessary.

Aside from the shirt, you could also wear a simple knitted jumper with a round neck collar and a shirt or t-shirt underneath. You should not wear a turtleneck for a passport photo. Although there is no ban on wearing turtlenecks, it will cover your neck and your application might be rejected on this basis. The best thing to do is to refrain from wearing a turtleneck.

Before taking your photo, you might want to go to your hairdresser or barber to trim your luscious beard. If you have a glowing forehead or cheeks, you might want to use some powder. Do not edit the photos using Photoshop or any other program. It is strictly forbidden to edit photos that will appear in your official documents – that goes for your passport photos, driving license photos and any others.

What should you not wear?

Remember that casual clothing is acceptable as long as it is not too extravagant and does not reveal too much of your body. Never wear a sleeveless T-shirt for your passport picture, even if embers are pouring from the sky. You should not wear a sleeveless t-shirt for two main reasons. Firstly, you will commit a serious faux pax and, secondly, on the final photo you might end up looking as if you have no clothes on at all. The photo is always trimmed to the desired size. It might make you shrug your shoulders. You might be thinking that it’s just a picture in your passport and no one except the government officials will have to look at it. Think carefully – perhaps there will come a time when you will have to present your passport at work, for example for a business trip. Would you like to look like you posed for your passport picture naked?

How do I take a passport photo at home?

Theoretically, the easiest thing to do is to go to the photographer, take a picture, pay and have it all figured out. However, this solution has two major drawbacks – it is quite expensive and it makes it impossible to choose the right shot. Do you imagine that the photographer will allow you to repeat the process and choose the right shot? Well, not really. For the photographer, it does not matter that the unfavourable photograph will accompany you for the next 10 years. Fortunately, you can take a photo for your passport using your smartphone or tablet. All you need to do is have a camera that takes high-resolution photos.

Taking a passport photo using your smartphone – step by step

  1. Prepare a light shirt or other top in a light colour, but not in white. Blue tends to work well.
  2. Set up the lighting – natural light will be ideal.
  3. Ask someone to take your picture. 
  4. The person who will take your photo should stand around 1.5 meters away from you to avoid shadows.
  5. Position yourself around 0.5 m from the wall.
  6. Position yourself in accordance with the guidelines. You might want to take a dozen or so photos to get the perfect one.
  7. Select the best ones and upload them to your online passport photo editor.
  8. The tool will check whether your photo complies with the guidelines, remove the background and crop the photo to the correct size.
  9. You will receive a ready to print photo file via email.
  10. Print the photo on photographic paper.

The Summary

The introduction of biometric photos to official documents has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the photos’ guidelines are standardised throughout Europe, which makes it easier to identify travellers. On the other hand, passport photos have many guidelines for posing, dressing or facial expressions. In addition, let us be honest, few people are satisfied with their passport photo. Fortunately, using your own phone and the editor mentioned above, you can take your passport picture online and take control over how you present yourself in the photo. A photo that will stay with you for up to 10 years.