In the UK we have the privilege of being able to take our own passport photographs. Most of us will pop down to the local automated machine and have passport photo size prints inside ten minutes – but at the cost of at least £5 per set, photographing the whole family for a batch of passport renewals in time for that holiday can quickly add up.It’s a cost, though, that can be quickly and simply avoided by setting up a shoot at home, working some Photoshop magic to your images, and printing on some decent quality photo paper at the correct passport photo dimensions. Our money-saving guide shows you how to shoot your own passport sized photos quickly and easily at home…
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Make Your Own Passport Photos – Official guidelines
Shooting passport photographs demands that you stick to some stringent rules. A neutral expression with closed mouth, no red-eye, clear and sharp focus, with a plain cream/grey background, posed face-on to the camera, are all a must. The photo should also have been taken in the last month – so you won’t be able to use an old photo that you happen to have on your computer.
There should be no shadows on the face, no hair in the face, no facial-coverings and, after printing on photo paper, the images must have no tears, creases or marks. Though official rules state you cannot wear anything that covers your head, there is an exemption if the covering is worn for religious or medical reasons.
The official rules state ‘no glare off glasses’, though if you wear glasses you’re probably best off just removing them entirely – you also can’t wear tinted glasses or sunglasses.
If you’re taking a passport photo of a young child they have to be the only person in the photo – you can’t prop them up in your lap. Official advice suggests that very young infants are placed on a grey sheet and photographed from above. The posing restrictions for children under 6, however, are a little less stringent – the child doesn’t have to be looking at the camera or maintaining a neutral expression. Children under 1 also don’t have to have their eyes open, though if someone is supporting their head with a hand, that hand is not allowed to be visible.
It’s worth checking the guidelines as they can change frequently (www.gov.uk/photos-for-passports).
Make Your Own Passport Photos – Shooting
Find a light-coloured wall (should be light grey or cream, not 100% white where possible) as a background and shoot your passport photo subject using the portrait orientation.
Avoid using the flash as this increases the likelihood of red-eye and background shadows (however, if you can turn the flash down then a small pop of fill-in can provide good colour balance and open up facial detail).
Daylight is best, such as from a window, as this can provide as equal a balance as possible to avoid shadows on the face and background. Flat lighting is integral, as shadows over the face may cause your images to be rejected. Expose for the subject’s face, preferably using a spot or centre-weighted evaluative metering setting if your camera offers this.
Take several photos as to get the best possible image, avoiding smiling and blinking. You could even do this yourself if you use the camera’s self-timer and rest on an appropriate surface or, if you have one, use a tripod.
You can’t use a photo that has been cut down from a larger photo, so make sure to position yourself or the subject so that they are completely filling the frame. The image of you, from the crown of your head to your chin must be between 29 and 34mm (while the overall height of the image is 44mm).
When reviewing your images, ensure that they are well exposed – you don’t want underexposure, as the detail of the face will be lost in the shadows.
Your surroundings are important and need to be neutral – for example, should you stand by something red it will have a luminescence that will reflect red light back onto you. So snaps from down the local boozer won’t do – you have to specifically shoot for the right posed shot in the correct location. As much as a photobooth will happily do all this for you, avoiding the expense is the target here.
List of places where you can take passport photos and other photo printing services in the UK
Coventry London Manchester Birmingham Leicester Leeds Bradford Liverpool Bristol Daventry Nottingham Northampton Walsal Rugby Luton Oxford Leamington-Spa Reading Lincoln
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