Headshots: how to shoot passport photos social media profiles and other informal portraits

Headshots: how to shoot passport photos, social media avatars and other informal portraits

How to shoot passport photos

Forget about creative lighting for passport shots; all you need is shadowless light.

How to shoot passport photos

The easiest way to do this, if you have a white ceiling, is to fit the flash to the hotshoe of your camera then, rather than direct the flash at the subject, move the head into an upright position.

If your flash has a built-in bounce card you can twist the head around and use this bounce card to prevent the light reaching the subject directly.

Finally, you can also get the model to hold a reflector under their chin to prevent any shadows.

Clarity is crucial in a passport photo – you need to capture the subject fully and accurately

Clarity is crucial in a passport photo – you need to capture the subject fully and accurately

Kit needed
■ Flashgun ■ Reflectors

PASSPORT REGULATIONS
Image requirements vary slightly according to your country, but there are some basic elements that apply to most passport images.

The subject should be evenly lit, taken against a plain background, without any harsh shadows or reflections on glasses (although some countries specify that glasses should be removed entirely), the subject should have a blank expression (no smiling, for example) and they should be face-on to the camera.

Passport photos should be printed on photographic paper, so it’s best to get them printed at a photo lab rather than do it at home on your inkjet printer.

There are also rules about the size of the overall image and maximum or minimum size of the head within the image.

UK passport photo sizes vs US passport photo sizes

For the UK passport photos need to be 45x35mm, and the head needs to be between 29 and 34mm high.

In the USA passport photos need to be 2x2in (51x51mm), with the head between 25 and 35mm high.

PAGE 1: How to set up your home studio to shoot headshots
PAGE 2: How to set up your flash to shoot headshots
PAGE 3: Shooting headshots with a one flash setup
PAGE 4: Shooting headshots with two flashguns
PAGE 5: How to shoot passport photos
PAGE 6: Capturing informal looks for social media profile pictures

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