Prince shared his passport photo on Twitter…and the Internet exploded. Writers called it “sheer perfection,” “game-changing” and even “so aggressively sexual it should be illegal.”
Mashable writer Jim Roberts tweeted “You’ll never have a passport photo like this. So give up.”
But do you have to give up? Are the rest of us mere mortals doomed to carry around humiliating passport photos for the next decade? We say “No more!” After analyzing Prince’s Internet-famous passport pic to find out what makes it so special, and combing the web for advice from stylists and makeup artists, RushMyPassport presents: a 5 step plan to help you take a better passport photo.
Step 1: Choose The Right Clothes for a Great Passport Photo
In his photo, Prince sports a black brocade jacket over a dark t-shirt. Since passport photos must be taken against a plain white background, dark clothes work best. Choose a dark color that flatters your skintone and/or your eyes. A little bit of texture (like the brocade on Prince’s jacket) will make for a nice contrast.
For women, a sensibly high neckline is recommended. Turtlenecks are not.
Per State Department regulations, avoid wearing any sort of uniform for the photo. Religious clothing is acceptable if you wear it every day.
As of November 1st, 2016, you are no longer allowed to wear glasses in your passport photo.
Step 2: Choose the Right Hairstyle
In Prince’s photo, his Afro surrounds his head “like a halo,” as Voice of America put it. If your hair is your crowning glory, show it off! Just remember, hats and most other head coverings are against the rules per the Department of State. The only exception is for religious headcoverings. Even headbands and bows are forbidden.
If you have long hair, let it hang down. Smooth flyaways with a little bit of gel, but don’t overdo it. Some passport photographers will insist you tuck it back behind your ears for the photo, but this isn’t actually required by the Department of State. Here’s what is required: your hair must not obscure any portion of your face, nor cast shadows on your face.
Step 3: Give Your Makeup The Hollywood Treatment
Obviously, Prince had his stylist handy for this photo shoot. Don’t have a stylist? Use these expert tips and tricks to get ready for your close-up!
First, splurge on some primer to go under your foundation, even if it’s not something you usually use. It will help even out your skin tone and keep everything else in place.
Next, a harsh flash can really highlight undereye circles. You’ll notice that’s not a problem for Prince. However, it’s probably a problem for you. Correct it with concealer in a shade slightly lighter than your skin tone.
When it comes to photos, shine is the enemy. Don’t skimp on the powder, and consider retouching right before you say cheese. Relatedly, shimmery cosmetics do not photograph well. So leave the glitter and the shiny lip gloss at home.
Need some visuals? The following tutorials will help.
In this tutorial, makeup artist Jordan Liberty gives tips and tricks for makeup for photography, including specific product recommendations.
This article from Buzzfeed has more general tips that everyone can use:
Here’s How To Do Your Makeup So It Looks Incredible In Pictures
Attention, Gentlemen: Eyeliner and mascara not your thing? It’s okay. Not everyone can be Prince, and it’s probably best that you don’t try. But there’s no shame in borrowing your wife or girlfriend’s translucent face powder, either. A shiny t-zone is not a sign of manliness.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to wear your glasses in your passport photo, even if you wear them everyday. If you do wear them, make sure they’re tilted down just a little to ward off glare.
Step 4: Strike a Pose
— fonkymutha (@XtRaLoVeAbLe) February 11, 2016
Did your last passport photo look like a mug shot? Your expression may have had something to do with it, especially if the photographer ordered you not to smile. Can you smile for a passport photo? Yes, as long as you keep it subtle. State Department guidelines say “a neutral expression is preferred;” but “a natural smile is acceptable.” So there’s no need to look like you just checked in to the local county jail.
A natural smile is easier for most of us to pull off, but if you have the lower lip for it, you could try to recreate Prince’s now famous “purple pout.”
Whatever you do, keep it subtle. “Exaggerated expressions” of any sort are a no-no and will delay your application. And remember, practice makes perfect!
Step 5: Lights, Camera, Action! Choosing Where to Get Your Passport Photo
So, you’re all dressed up…where will you go? Drugstores, big box stores like Walmart and post offices generally offer passport photo services. It seems clear that Prince hired his own professional photographer for his passport photos, which is great if you have the money for it.
Another option is to have a friend take the picture for you, and use the State Department’s passport photo tool to make sure it’s the right size and cropped correctly. This allows you to do unlimited retakes for free and gets you out from under the usual harsh fluorescent lights.
The downside? Photographers (and even photography department clerks) are trained to take passport pictures that meet Department of State requirements. An amateur is more likely to make a mistake, and that means your application could be delayed. If you choose this route, make sure you read all of the State Department’s passport photo guidelines and have access to a photo quality printer before you proceed.
At RushMyPassport, we know our customers want to get their passports in hand as quickly as possible. So, we generally recommend using a drugstore, post office or a professional photographer. After all, as much as you want to look good in your passport photo, it’s more important that you get your passport on time.
Do you need your passport quickly? We can help you get your passport application processed in as little as 24 hours. Start our easy order process here!