Don't bother taking a professional passport photo – it'll only be rejected!

Man taking a photo of a girl using a phone
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most of us are all too familiar with the excruciating task of getting a passport photo taken. You enter those brightly lit booths, pull the curtain and proceed to take unflattering photos only to have to pick the best of a bad bunch. That photo is then going to haunt you for the next 10 years… So last time I had to get a new passport I decided to take the photo myself (because you can do that now) but of course, I overcomplicated the process. 

When it came around to taking my passport photo I decided to do it “properly”. I set up my photography lighting kit, a white backdrop and attached my Sony A7 III to the best tripod I could find. I used my phone as a remote shutter so that I could check the composition and make sure my face was in focus and then started snapping. 

After checking the photos that met the UK requirements i.e. plain background, facing forward looking at the camera, plain mouth closed expression, no hair in front of your face, no shadows behind and it includes your head, shoulders and upper body, I uploaded my photo to the UK.GOV website. To my surprise, my photo was rejected… it hit all the criteria, it was the required 600x750 pixels, at least 50KB but no more than 10MB, it was clear and in focus and nothing was hiding my face. 

I tried several more times using the high-res photos I’d taken with my mirrorless camera but after several failed attempts I gave up. Instead, I took a quick selfie against a white wall using the front-facing camera on my iPhone 11. Lo and behold, I had no problems whatsoever, straight away it was accepted and I wondered why I'd bother going to all that effort. 

I’m not the only one to have experienced this, one of my colleagues also thought it would be best practice to take a professional passport photo but ended up using a photo taken on his phone after several were rejected. Of course, a photographer is going to try and overcomplicate the photo-taking process at any given opportunity but you’d have thought a better quality image would be better, right? Well, it doesn't seem to be the case so if you are looking to take a passport photo, just use your camera phone to save yourself time and effort. 

Why not also check out the best budget camera phones which will work perfectly fine for taking a passport photo too!

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.