The Dreaded Passport Photo

I recently had to get a new passport because my current one had no more room left for stamps or visas (I know, I know #bragging #lifegoals #freakingproud). I put off getting my new passport photo taken – and thus putting off getting a new passport for months. Seriously, months. Because I dreaded getting a bad photo.


Finally, after lots of practice, I got over myself, put on make up and went to the post office. After chatting with the woman there I decided that she would not let me take multiple photos/see the photo before it was printed and I’m not going to mess around with that. First try: unsuccessful.

A couple of days later I went to Walgreens and had my photos taken. I didn’t realize how windy it was and I also didn’t realize I had worn the absolutely wrong lipstick (yes, even after practice shots on my phone). After a couple of photos I settled on one and had it printed. But it bugged me. I couldn’t bring myself to submit it. Second try: unsuccessful.

Third times the charm, or something like that, right? After making small adjustments to my make up (wearing my normal lipstick instead of brighter lipstick for the camera) I finally got a shot I was happy with. Plus, I realized that it’s just a passport photo – there’s really not a good reason to belabor this or freak out about it. That being said, here are my tips for getting a good passport photo:

  1. Play up the eye make up just a little and keep everything else natural. I usually only wear eyeliner on my top lids, but for the photo I wore mascara as well. Also, bring powder! There will more than likely be some shine. Double check everything before taking the photos.
  2. Go on a good hair day, and when it’s not windy or raining. Set yourself up for success.
  3. Wear a slender fitting shirt with sleeves. Trust me on this – a tank top won’t look good. Unless your a model, bare shoulders in a photo like this is hard to pull off. Also, don’t wear white. I did on my second try and I had to go change because the background was white.
  4. Good posture is your best friend. Always, but especially in photos. Shoulders down and back, elongate your neck and relax your arms (hooking your thumbs in your pockets helps relax arms). Make sure your chin is forward just a little and either down just a smidge or even with the camera – this will bring out your eyes and prevent and sort of double chin.
  5. Think of something that makes you smile. It will relax and bring some inner joy to your photo so you won’t look super serious.
  6. Practice and ask to look at your photo before it is printed. Passports are good for 10 years… 10 years! If your reading this you probably care about your photo, so make sure you’re happy.


Just a note – the government site does say that you no longer need to show your ears but the woman at Walgreens told me applications have been sent back for not showing ears. So I did it, I showed my ears… reluctantly.  Also the site says that you can take one at home and upload it. I was too lazy to resize the photo from my iPhone practice session, but you may prefer that. Here is the official site for requirements. Below are some of my practice shots taken in my bathroom (I have about 50 others)….



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