An Ugly Passport Photo – What To Do About It?

A man with dark hair and in a white shirt who is taking a photo with a text an ugly passport photo what to do about it

Have you ever looked at your new passport photo and thought: how is it possible to look attractive in any picture for documents? 

You may not be the only one wondering about this. According to statistics collected by the Department of Psychology at York University, 9 out of 10 people are not happy with how they look in passport photos, and consider themselves unphotogenic. 

If you follow 2 essential rules, the photo session process will seem easier than before. You’ll be able to proudly pull out your passport at work, or at the airport. You will also know what to avoid when taking a passport photo, and what to do about a bad one.

Why do passport photographs make us appear unattractive?

You go to a photo studio, or photocopying center, to take a perfect passport photo. You get dressed up, fix your hair, do your makeup – it seems that the picture will be perfect. But then you get the final result, and it’s completely different from what you expected. 

People often don’t appear the way they want in passport photos. 

One of the reasons why is that they can’t relax in photo centers. Our passport photos turn out ugly, because we only have a couple of tries for the photographer to take the picture. Some of us are afraid to ask the photographer to take a photo again, as we are in a very unfamiliar environment. All of the people in the photo center seem to judge us because we take up their time. What if the pictures don’t come out right on the second try? Can we ask the photographer to do it a third and fourth time, just because we want the perfect shot? 

While it’s okay to ask a photographer to take picture №5, it doesn’t mean that on the 5th try your passport picture will be perfect. 

Many details can get in the way of getting the perfect passport photo – bad weather that ruined your mood and hairstyle, wrong outfit, or poor lighting – sometimes even the highest class photographers cannot make up for those. 

Is there a way to take a good passport photograph?

Rule №1 – If you want your passport photo to look good – you have to do your research. Find out which option will work the best for you – whether it’s help from a photographer, or an online photo converter. When you know which photo session format suits you best, you can prepare for the photoshoot in advance, and boost your chances to take a beautiful passport photo. 

Professional photographers know how to operate with lights, and cameras, to get good looking effects. The downside is that you have a limited number of attempts, need to get to the place (exposing yourself to wind), and there is usually no possibility to improve your looks. 

With online tools you and your friends are the photographers, which means you can take as many photos as you wish – at any time and place – whether it’s your own room, a lunch break at work, or university. 

Rule №2 – monitor your mood. Most of the time, people cannot hide their genuine emotions. If you feel that you’re not in a good mood, it’s better to move the day of the photoshoot to another one. Otherwise the passport photo may convey your bad mood from that day, and it will be impossible to fix – you’ll have to take your photo again. 

Background and lighting in a passport photo

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a passport photo, it can significantly improve the way you look in the picture.

If you decide to take a passport photo by yourself, the lighting has to be good: your room must be nicely illuminated, preferably with natural light. Consider taking your images with daylight or against a wall facing a window, as using standard home-lamps will cast shadows on your face.

In photography studios daylight doesn’t play such a crucial role, as there are different types of professional lamps to illuminate your face properly. Some of them can, however, make you look undesirable – LED lighting can emphasize the bags under your eyes, or wrinkles. 

The photo should not be too bright (this applies to glare and sunlight) and vice versa – not too dark (the presence of shadows and other damage such as too vivid a contrast or a blurred effect on the photo).

One of the best ways to get a passport photo (especially if you do it yourself) is to take a picture against a wall, facing a window. For the background you can use a blanket that is  neutral and lightly colored, or – if you have one – a white wall. There are, however, online photo converters that can automatically remove the background of your image and replace it with a plain white one. This enables you to take your passport photo in any favorable place – which means that you can look for the lighting that makes you look best, with no regards to the background.

Am I allowed to smile in a passport photo or not?

You can smile slightly in your passport photo. However, opening your mouth and showing your teeth is forbidden. 

The recommended facial expression for a passport photo is neutral. You need to relax your muscles and look into the camera, without closing your eyes or frowning your forehead. You can have a delicate smile but make sure not to show your teeth.

We propose you take your passport photos both ways, with a delicate smile and a neutral expression, and see what works best for you. Online passport photo tools come in handy here, as some allow you to take an unlimited amount of photographs, so you can pick the one that’s most favorable for you.

What beauty products can you use for your passport picture?

Despite the fact that modifying facial features in passport photos is not allowed, each of us wants to do our best to look good in the final picture. 

Remember that you are taking an official photo, not going to the last party of your life, and the main purpose of such an image is to identify you as a person. Although makeup is not banned – you should not overdo it. Consider putting aside:

  • ❌False or extended eyelashes;
  • ❌Bright and shiny eyeshadow;
  • ❌Very colorful lipstick (red, orange, black etc.)
  • ❌Strong self-tanner and foundations in colors different from your skin tone;
  • ❌Transferable face stickers;
  • ❌Very bright eyeliner;
  • ❌Face rhinestones.

The authorities can refuse your passport application if your photo does not meet the official requirements. Another reason for the rejection of the application is if you don’t look like yourself in the photo.

Natural and everyday makeup looks can help you, and hide a few imperfections. Consider using: 

  • ✅A little foundation and concealer;
  • ✅Light pink blush;
  • ✅Transparent hygienic lipstick;
  • ✅Brown mascara. 

We all want to look beautiful in our passport photo – so if you have a pimple or other minor imperfection, makeup can be your savior. But don’t put on too many cosmetics – the final result should be as natural and organic as possible.

Which hairstyle should you choose for a passport photo?

Speaking of hair, the only rule you have to keep in mind is that your hair should not cover your face, or go beyond the frame of the picture – tall hairstyles (for example, a tall ponytail) are not recommended.

If you have bangs, make sure that they do not obscure the line of your eyebrows and eyes. 

If you want to take your photo with your hair loose, make sure you style it neatly so that no hair is sticking out. 

You can safely be photographed for a passport with the same hairstyle you do every day – there is no need for elegance. And a simple and casual hairstyle can actually work best for you.

What should you ignore while taking a passport photo?

When taking a passport photo, the most important rule is not to overdo anything. 

This regulation applies to makeup, hair, clothing, or accessories. You don’t need to put on too many beauty products, or wear huge earrings to look good in the photo. You have to look as natural as possible. 

Speaking of accessories, they are not prohibited in the passport photo, as long as they do not hide your facial features.

Except for religious reasons, the authorities prohibit wearing a head covering, such as headgear, beanies, and bandanas. You can wear hearing aids in your passport photo, but you must present a valid explanation for their daily usage (for example, an official medical statement from a doctor).

Using photo-editing programs, such as Photoshop, should be treated with caution. For example, you can cover up a pimple, but removing crucial features of your face – such as scars, freckles, or wrinkles – is forbidden.

Snap an image for your passport by yourself

One of the main reasons why our passport photos look ugly is limited attempts to take a picture. Often you cannot verify how you look and improve the aspects that do not look good in the picture. Additionally, when a stranger takes a photo of you – it may be hard to focus on the expression of your face and relax. 

Moreover, asking a photographer to retake your photo for you a hundred times, when you see a massive queue of people behind you, who want to get a passport photo, is not a pleasant task, besides requiring additional expenses. 

Therefore, we have found a solution to those challenges – take a passport photo yourself. 

You will have the opportunity to ask your friend or a family member to take a photo of you. Therefore, there will be time to have as many tries as needed for you to take a perfect passport photo.

How to take a passport sized photo from a mobile – PhotoAiD

To take a passport photo with a 100% guarantee of approval by the authorities yourself – you will need the help of an online photo tool.

Online photo-editing apps allow you to take ID photos with your smartphone and with no prior experience needed. Moreover, you can take your passport photos in three seconds from the comfort of your own home. 

PhotoAiD is an online passport photo converter, which uses an AI system that automatically checks your photo for compliance with official passport requirements.  Furthermore, a human expert can confirm your passport photo’s validity. You can be 100% sure that your photo will be approved by the authorities. 

With the help of the online photo converter, you can take the pictures from your own house, with full access to all of the necessary cosmetics or clothes you might need. If you feel like the picture is not as appealing as you wish, you have the opportunity to change your look – comb your hair, fix your makeup or change your outfit. And then, to take the picture again. 

The cost of a passport photo with an online photo converter, PhotoAiD, is only $6.95. At this low price, you’ll save 30% off the estimated cost at other photo centers.

Plus, if you take pictures with the PhotoAiD converter, your photos will have a 100% compliance rate. It means that your images will meet all the necessary requirements.

Passport picture turned out bad – how to fix it? – FAQs

How can I make my passport photo look good?

Understand where you feel most comfortable taking passport photos – in a photo studio or on your own, at home.

The long drive to the photo center, bad weather that can ruin your hair, inability to take as many shots as you want, ruined makeup or hairstyle, lack of privacy and peace of mind – all these factors can ruin your mood and the final picture may not look as good as you’d like it to.

One of the best options would be to take a passport photo using an online photo converter, such as PhotoAiD. You will be able to get yourself in shape, at a relaxed pace, and take as many pictures as you need.

In addition, the app will automatically fix your background, crop the photo to the right size, and let you know what you need to adjust. 

Why do I look puffy in photos?

Many factors can affect your appearance during a photoshoot. For example, if you are photographed in a special photo studio there could be strong and excessive contrast lighting, or too much use of the zoom function, which emphasizes every tiny flaw of your face. 

In order to look good in the passport photo – we advise you to take a photo, by yourself, using online passport photo converters, such as PhotoAiD.

Why are passport photos so unattractive?

The photo can turn out to be ugly for a variety of reasons. For example, the weather can be bad on the day of your photo session, which will spoil your hair and makeup, or you are too shy to be photographed in front of strangers, so you are not comfortable making the right pose in a particular photo studio. 

Will officials approve my images if I take them by myself?

To get your passport photos approved by the officials, you need to be familiar with all the official requirements. If you follow all of the passport photo guidelines, while taking your picture, and use verified and trustworthy online editing tools, you can be sure that your photos will be accepted.

You can be 100% sure that the passport picture taken with PhotoAiD will be correct, and approved by the authorities.

How can you appear your best in your passport picture?

The most important rule when you take a passport photo is to be in a good mood. Also, you shouldn’t grin with your mouth open – we advise you to slightly lift the corners of your mouth so that you’re not showing your teeth.

Can I put on makeup for my passport picture?

Yes. The official requirements allow you to wear makeup in your passport photo. We recommend you avoid very bright and shiny colors with your makeup. This rule applies to lipsticks, mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow. We advise you to stick to neutral and light colors and not use cosmetics too much. 

What should you do if your passport picture turned out ugly? – final thoughts

Passport photos often don’t turn out as good as we’d like them to. If you want your official photo to look attractive you should understand which option will work the best for you. 

You can book a visit to a professional photo studio or use an online tool such as PhotoAiD.