How to Take a Passport Photo Using a Digital Camera

Updated April 17, 2017

It used to be that you could only submit photos with your passport application that were taken by a professional passport photographer, but with the advent of digital cameras, you can learn to take your own passport photos. Not only is taking your own photo more convenient, but it can save you money. However, you must follow the government's photo requirements exactly to avoid having your passport application rejected.

Use a digital camera with at least a 3.0 megapixel resolution.

Set up the background where you will photograph your subject. The background must be neutral in colour and free of decorations or extraneous designs. It is best to use a white or off-white wall.

Sit or stand the subject about two feet in front of the wall. The subject will have to look forward at the camera.

Position two light sources on either side of the subject to avoid shadows on the face and illuminate the background. One light source, such as a lamp, should be several feet in front of and diagonally to the left of the subject. The other light source should be placed in the same way diagonally to the right of the subject.

Place the camera on a tripod about four feet in front of the subject between and slightly farther than the two light sources. Adjust the camera or the tripod so that it is at eye level with the subject.

Use the viewfinder or digital display to frame the subject's face. Have the subject look directly at the camera with a neutral expression. The face should fill about two-thirds of the frame and you should see the upper part of the shoulders.

Depress the shutter halfway to verify that the picture will be in focus. Most digital cameras have this feature.

Use standard settings on your camera, turn the flash off and take the photo. If you are taking the photo of yourself, set the timer, depress the shutter button and get into position for the photo.

Verify the quality of your photograph using the photo review feature on your camera. There should be no harsh shadows on the face or the wall. The photo should not be underexposed or overexposed and should be of the appropriate contrast. Re-take the photo if necessary.


Print two copies of the photograph. The photograph must be 2 by 2 inches; crop it if need be. Print on thin photo paper or stock. Alternatively, save your photo to a disk, CD or jump drive or bring your camera disk to a photo lab to have the photo printed professionally.


Do not retouch or modify the photo except to crop it. For your photo, do not wear a uniform, except religious attire, hat or headgear that obscures your hair or sunglasses or tinted glasses that are dark.

Things You'll Need

  • Tripod
  • Two lamps
  • Neutral background
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About the Author

Danielle Cort has been a freelance writer since 2008, specializing in psychology, health, education and parenting. She has published articles in "Family" magazine. Before becoming a freelance writer, Cort worked in the public policy research sector, conducting research, creating surveys and budgets. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in social psychology from the University of Massachusetts.