Thursday, December 8, 2011

making a passport photo

This is quite a simple task yet not as easy as one might assume as passport photos usually need to be made according to certain specifications and the size might vary between countries.

Here are the specifications for the Indian Visa/ Passport photo followed by the UK ones. They are worth reading in as much as they give one a basic understanding of the complexities involved in making such a simple photograph or just responding to the request of "Can you take my photo please!"

I have done the image at the required 2 by 2 inch size and then put six of these on to a 6 by 4 print so the photos can easily be made when required.

From the photographer's point of view, a standard lens needs to be used (a slightly longer than standard 80mm would work well) while the background needs to be plain.


It is imperative that the photograph submitted at the time of application must fall within the specifications and sizes given below. Applicants can obtain the correct specification photograph from the coin operated vending machine available at the visa application centres. Applicants can get two photographs instantly at a nominal cost of a £4.
Unacceptable photographs, that do not meet the specifications, may not be accepted for submission.

Sample Photograph:

The photograph should be in color and of the size of 2 inch x 2 inch (50 mm x 50 mm).
The photo-print should be clear and with a continuous-tone quality.
It should have full face, front view, eyes open.
Photo should present full head from top of hair to bottom of chin.
Center head within frame.
The background should be a plain light colored background.
There should not be any distracting shadows on the face or on the background.
Head coverings are not permitted except for religious reasons, but the facial features from bottom of chin to top of forehead and both edges of the face must be clearly shown.
The expression on the face should look natural.

Do’s and Don’ts for a Proper photograph

The photo should capture full face, front view, with eyes open.
The head should be in the centre of the frame.
There should be no distracting shadows on the face or background.

Make sure photo presents full head from top of hair to bottom of chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 1-3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm). Make sure eye height is between 1- 1/8 inches to 1-3.

Lighting on face and background

The light should be even and balanced to avoid shadows on the face.
Background behind the face should be properly illuminated to avoid shadows in the background.

Photograph Print Properties

The photograph should be in size 2 inch x 2 inch (50 mm x 50 mm) and in color.
Print photo on thin photo paper.
Ensure the print is clear and has a continuous-tone quality.
Do not retouch or otherwise enhance or soften the photo.
Resolution and Printing Quality/Contrast and Colour

High-resolution photography and printing are strongly recommended.
Both conventional and digital photography are acceptable, and conventional or digital printing methods may be used.
Resulting print should exhibit a continuous-tone quality regardless of the print method used (dye sublimation, ink jet, laser, etc.)
Digitally printed photos should be produced without visible pixels or dot patterns
Fine facial features should be discernible.
Brightness and contrast should be adjusted to present the subjectand background accurately.
Photos without proper contrast or color may obscure unique facial features.
Color should reproduce natural skin tones.
Fluorescent or other lighting with
Unbalanced color may cause unwanted color cast in the photo. Appropriate filters can eliminate improper color balance.
Head & Eyes- Position and Background

Head should face the camera directly and should not tilt or turned (portrait style).
Photo must show both edges of the face clearly.
The eyes must be open, level and clearly visible and must not be covered by hairs or eyeglass frames.

Glare on eyeglasses should be avoided with a slight upward or downward tilt of the head.
No tinted or dark glasses.
Head coverings are not permitted except for religious reasons, but the facial features from bottom of chin to top of forehead and both edges of the face must be clearly shown.

Exposure and Lighting

There should not be any over-exposure or underexposure which results in an unusable photo.
There should be a three-point balanced lighting. Facial features should be clearly evident in the photo.
Lighting should be adjusted to avoid shadows on the face or background. Diffuse sources of light, such as umbrella lights, are preferable to point sources.
Flexibility in Children’s photographs

Babies under one year do not have to have their eyes open.
As regards the photograph of the children under ten years of age, requirements can be somewhat relaxed in respect of height of the face and the position of the eyes in the photographs; and in case of babies and infants also, the position of the face, the facial expression, the eyes and the line of sight can have some relaxation. However, a frontal photograph with clarity is required for children.
It should show the child alone (no chair backs, toys or other people visible) looking at the camera with a neutral expression and the mouth closed.


The rules for passport photos

The photographs you supply with your application must:
  • show you with a neutral expression and your mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eyebrows)
  • show you on your own (babies should not have toys or a dummy, and there shouldn’t be other people in the photo)
  • be in colour, not black and white
  • be identical
  • be taken within the last month
  • be 45 millimetres high x 35 millimetres wide - this is the standard size when you have a passport photo taken in a photo booth or studio (you should not trim a larger photograph to meet this condition)
  • be clear and in sharp focus, with a clear difference between your face and the background
  • be taken against a plain cream or plain light grey background
  • not show you with red-eye
  • be of you facing forward and looking straight at the camera
  • not be torn, creased, or marked 
  • be printed on plain white photographic paper
  • be free from shadows
  • be taken with your eyes open and clearly visible (no sunglasses or tinted glasses and no hair across your eyes)
  • be free from reflection or glare on your glasses, and the frames must not cover your eyes - the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) recommends that, if possible, you remove your glasses
  • be professionally printed (photographs printed at home are not acceptable)
  • show your full head, without any head covering, unless you wear one for religious beliefs or medical reasons
  • be taken with nothing covering your face - you should make sure nothing covers the outline of your eyes, nose or mouth
  • be a close-up of your head and shoulders with a recommended head height (the distance between the bottom of your chin and the crown of your head) between 29 and 34 mm
  • not have any writing on the front or back, except on certified photos - trademarks or photographic printing on the back must not show through

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