How to Take a Passport Photo with Digital Camera: 5 Main Things to Focus On (2019)

How to take a passport photo on your own at home with Digital camera today (guide)

Here’s the thing:

Some people prefer doing things on their own.

And some believe that getting your passport photo taken in a studio isn’t well worth the spend.

So you may be wondering:

Why go this route when you can do it by yourself?


If you have a camera, the next step is for you to know how to take a passport photo with digital camera in 2019 (and beyond).

It isn’t that of a daunting task as it sounds, especially if you have experience in photography.

Guess what?

A lot of people actually take their passport photos themselves.

There are no fusses regarding editing, complicated backgrounds, and even filters. Of course, there are still certain guidelines to follow (and I’ll get there in a second).


If you really want to maximize the use of your digital camera, there are also some tips and tricks that I can share here.

Let’s get started.

Important Guidelines for Taking Passport Photos

To be clear:

I cannot generalize the set of guidelines when it comes to passport photos because it varies from one country to another.

However, almost all countries tend to adhere to some set rules, such as the background, your ensemble, exposure, accepted expressions, and the likes.

Here are some of those guidelines:

  • Your face must be in full view, directly facing the camera.
  • It’s required that you have neutral expression.
  • You can wear what you wear on an everyday basis.
  • You need to submit a recent photo of yours (within the past 6 months).
  • The background should be plain white or off-white.
  • Your photo can be printed on a glossy or matte photo paper.
  • It must be a colored photo.
  • No glasses or hats unless for medical or religious purposes (provide signed statements).
  • You should not be wearing headphones or any other devices that are wireless.
  • The size of the photo must be two by two inches or 51 mm by 51 mm. Accordingly, your head should be 1 to 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of your chin up to the top of your head.

Here’s a source of digital image requirements (in the U.S.) if you decide to take a photo yourself.


These are the main things you’ll need:

  • Good digital camera
  • White or off-white background
  • Photo Paper
  • Printer

This being said, let’s talk about tips and tricks to take a passport photo on your own.

How to Take a Passport Photo With Digital Camera

Tips and tricks on how to take a passport photo with digital camera (on your own at home).

First of all, you can just leave the settings of your camera in Auto mode.

Of course you can play with some of its settings such as the white balance, exposure, and the likes but don’t go for settings that will distort your face shape, enlarge your eyes, or smoothen your skin.

Point is…

The photo should be as what you look like in person, as much as possible.

(Also, if you have a mirrorless camera, you can switch out the lens to have more focus.)

What about lenses?

When it comes to the lenses, going with mid or tele zoom like 85 mm or 70-200 mm is best.

Austin Rogers explains why:

This’ll give a nice, flattering, compression without the distortion you’d see with a shorter lens. Obviously this is no time for a super-short-DOF portrait. Stop down your lens to between f/4 and f/8 for optimal, edge-to-edge sharpness. Set ISO and shutter speed to match.

Makes sense, right?

1. The Background

You don’t have to buy a white background. All you have to do is to find a white or off-white wall.

Make sure that this wall is also smooth, or if it is not that smooth, you can still take your picture there and post-process it at a later time.

Another thing that you can do is to stick a piece of white paper or cardboard on the wall.

Alternatively, you can also just hang a white cloth at your back.

2. The Lighting

Natural lighting is best, so you don’t have to worry about artificial lights.

In fact, you can simply take a photo in front of a window or even outside. If you really need to use artificial lights, go for fluorescent bulbs.

Fluorescent bulbs are great because it gives the vibe of a post-office lighting. Do not place it too near your face because your photo might look overexposed. Just scatter the light around you to brighten up the shot.

3. The Tripod

You have to use a tripod and set your camera to a timer setting.

This is the case because you have to sit or stand straight in the photo. Your hands should not look like you are taking a selfie.

If you don’t have a tripod, you can just put your camera on top of a stack of boxes or books.

4. The Editing

Once you take the picture that you like, you still have to edit it using either a computer software (like Photoshop) or an application in your phone.

You can edit the lighting, as well as the color of your shirt but do not alter the way you look.

  • This resource is great on teaching how to edit your photographs.

Deleting a few stray hairs is good, but doing other face modifications should not be done. Also, this is when you can crop the photo based on the passport photo regulations.

5. The Printing

You are now ready to print!

Use a photo paper and set the print settings to high quality so you can have a vivid picture.

Keep in mind that some passport photos are laminated, or there is a clear coat applied to the top. Hence, you have to make sure that when they do those things, your picture still looks clear.

Taking Passport Photos on Your Own (2019)

NOTE: No eyeglasses and no smile is allowed in 2019.

But basically that’s how you take a passport photo with digital cameras.

Pretty easy, right?

And you don’t even need any fancy equipment too.

Simply work with what you have, and boom! You were able to save a trip to a photography studio (not to mention a few bucks).


If you’re new to photography, consider the following entry-level cameras:

(Click on the link to read in-depth reviews of each).

Just remember that you still have to follow the passport photo guidelines because, at the end of the day, even if your goal is to look pretty or handsome in your photo, a passport photo is still going to land in a government-issued document.

Any other questions on how to take a passport photo with digital camera on your own?

Let us know in the comments!

How to Take a Passport Photo with Digital Camera: 5 Main Things to Focus On (2019)
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