How To Take a Great Passport Picture

How To Take a Great Passport Picture

Ahhh the dreaded passport picture. I don’t know about you, but I resent being told I can’t smile, have to show my ears and generally look like I’m taking a mug shot. Passport pictures are an arduous reminder that I am not a model, do not have a symmetrical face and generally look like a sullen teenager when I’m not pouting.

Travelling as much as I do, means having various sets of mug shots for the visa’s I inevitably have to pick up. On top of that, my passport is due to expire next year (eeeeeeek) so not only will I be potentially changing my name, I’ll finally be able to change my picture from the grumpy 15 year old with over plucked eyebrows and coffee shimmer lipstick smeared on. Sidenote: remember coffee shimmer lipstick?! 

But there is an art form to taking a passable passport shot. A few things are at play which you can manipulate to make your image a more pleasing one…..alternatively, you can just avoid looking at it like most of us have had to for the past 10 years. Although if you’re interested in understanding a few little tips and tricks to take a good passport shot, read on.

Getting a Good Passport Picture

Getting a Good Passport Picture

  • Take note of your foundation. If you don’t need to wear any, lucky you, but if you do then avoid one with SPF in as the camera flash will give you a ghostly shade of white. None too flattering.  These are my favourites…….

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk, £36.50, House of Fraser

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Concealer & Foundation, £25, House of Fraser

L’Oreal Infallible 24H Foundations: £9.99, Boots

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation: £10.99, Boots

  • Take a little extra care over your hair/makeup. All I mean by that is wash your hair and if it’s frizzy, maybe smooth a little serum over it and if it’s prone to flatness then take a bit of time pumping up the volume a touch. Camera booths are harsh and let me tell you, flash is not your friend. Well, not unless you aim for a ghostly pale, featureless face look. The reason that flash is your friend taking an iPhone selfie, is that it counteracts the blurry grimness your hand held shot gives you. It adds a bit of contrast and, yes, I guess it does add a little something to your complexion…..but you’ve usually got a fair amount of slap on, non?
  • Contour! I cannot tell you how much of a difference a little bit of light contouring makes to your face. If you think it’s too complex, have a look at Lisa Eldridge’s You Tube channel or check out my guide to contouring for dummies (like myself!) and a look at the very affordable Sleek Contour Palette.
  • Keep your clothes plain and flattering. Okay I know you’re only going to see a tiny bit of your outfit but if yellow makes you look jaundiced (as it does me) then steer clear. Just go for something you would standardly wear and keep it plain……anything too jazzy will look odd.
  • Relax your face. Trying not to look like a murdered when you have been told you MUST NOT SMILE is tough and I’m not saying I have achieved mug shot nirvana, but it will help if you relax your face, part your lips a bit (this avoids the temptation to clench your teeth) and make sure your eyes aren’t squinting, you aren’t furrowing your brow into a frown (my standard resting face).
  • Practice makes perfect. This may make you feel a bit silly, but you are gonna have your face staring back at you for 10 years on your passport so put things in perspective and lighten up. Practice your ‘smiling but not smiling’ pose in the mirror, and check out a few different faces, noting how your face feels……then take the mirror away and see if you can recreate them.

Ultimately, no one cares what you look like in your passport picture but you. So even if it doesn’t go well and you still end up looking like a nutter — wharves. Use your passport often, fill up those blank pages with stamps and care little!

L x




Lucy Lucraft
Lucy Lucraft

Lucy is a freelance journalist, blogger and podcaster based in Brighton, UK.

She started this blog in 2013 and is the host of blogging podcast What She Said.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram


  1. J-Sco
    21st April 2015 / 10:19 am

    we don’t see a picture of the current passport – this is what the people want. give the people what they want xxx

    • Lucy
      21st April 2015 / 7:01 pm

      Hahaha! To be honest, it’s kinda the same….although I just look grumpy with terrible makeup. Rimmel’s classic Coffee Shimmer lipstick definitely played a big role in my life:)

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