Why are Passport or ID photos always atrocious?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by atlanticza, May 1, 2012.

  1. atlanticza macrumors 6502a

    atlanticza

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Cape Town
    #1
    Ever experienced that B&W refugee look? No matter where one is in the world, the inevitable photos for official documents seem to morph us from a pleasant looking Dr Jekyll into a hideous Mr Hyde. Even police mug shots seem to be more appealing. What tricks are available to stop that camera from lying? (Or is it just me?) :eek:
     
  2. Zh2 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2011
    Location:
    In a house in England.
    #2
    Hi!

    Its just you. My passport photograph makes me look like George Clooney!!!

    :)

    Regards.

    Z
     
  3. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    Location:
    FL
    #3
    :p
     
  4. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    375th St. Y
    #4
    Because

    Because CVS and walgreens employees are not photographers. Even the ones in the photo department :p
     
  5. h1r0ll3r macrumors 68040

    h1r0ll3r

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    Maryland
    #5
    My passport photo from CVS actually looks good. My drivers license? That's another story.
     
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #6
    Because they aren't supposed to make you look good, they're supposed to show all the features an agent of the government needs to compare your face to the photo. But ... yeah, they are atrocious....
     
  7. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    Location:
    PHL
    #7
    My passport photo makes me look like Adam Levine.

    Whoever took the OP's passport photo isn't doing their job.
     
  8. Cathode macrumors regular

    Cathode

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    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    #8
    Take your own Passport photos. They look much better and its cheaper!
     
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    Jun 9, 2009
    #9
    +1. These are not glamour headshots, they are for purposes of identification.
     
  10. Todisco macrumors newbie

    Todisco

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    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #10
    Sad news for you but....

    Most people are atrocious looking - that's why not everyone can be movie stars and super models. It takes a lot of work to make the average person look good. :D
     
  11. btbrossard macrumors 6502a

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    #11
  12. mackmgg macrumors 65816

    mackmgg

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    Nov 2, 2007
    #12
    It's because they don't try to make you look good. The most important part of a portrait shot is the lighting. Some photographers take hours setting up thousands of dollars worth of lighting equipment. When they take your passport/license photo, the lighting is head on. This has a few effects on the photo: It makes you look flat and unappealing, but it also makes it easier to recognize someone from the photo.
     
  13. G5Unit macrumors 68020

    G5Unit

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    Apr 3, 2005
    Location:
    I'm calling the cops
    #13
    Rather than trying to set up a lighting system, I suppose you could try to use a slower shutter speed to get a brighter, more even image.

    You passport photo will be so small that any slight blurriness from the slow shutter will be rendered invisible.

    Or I could have absolutely no idea as to what I'm talking about.


    On a related note I just took my German passport photos in the machine that they had at the consulte's office and dear-god they look awful. Any way to get a good-looking neutral face?
     
  14. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

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    Aug 11, 2010
    Location:
    Kirkland
    #14
    My Passport somewhat looks like me, and a half decent respectable member of society. My Drivers license makes me look like an Eastern European Neo-Nazi. My Military ID makes me look like a Ghost. (A bad combination of me being deathly pale after being roused at 5AM by an angry drill instructor, and a flash way too bright on the cam)
     
  15. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #15
    Well they say the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi, so always show both IDs together. ;)
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #16
    Don't take this this the wrong way, please... but don't quit your daytime job to become a photographer, eh? :)

    Slowing the shutter speed will do nothing to for a "... more even image." And depending on how slow the shutter speed, the blurriness could be very visible.

    Best way to duplicate the lighting needed for a passport photo is to sit facing a bright window that does not have direct sun light. So either facing away from the sun or on a cloudy day.
     
  17. Dweez macrumors 65816

    Dweez

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    Down by the river
    #17
    This. Absolutely this. Zh2 and I are twins seperated @ birth? :)
     
  18. G5Unit macrumors 68020

    G5Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Location:
    I'm calling the cops
    #18
    I guess what I was trying to get at was that the longer you expose an image sensor to light, the brighter the image will become. Over time, the differences in light taken in from the darker areas of the subject will have less of a relative difference in brightness to the normal or brightly lit areas of the subject. The problem is that if shutter is left open for too long, you'll end up with a washed out photo. The over exposure can sometimes be overcome a bit by narrowing the aperture.

    Have I redeemed myself?:eek: maybe?

    And I take pictures a lot better than I describe how I take them, my flickr isn't too bad!
     
  19. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #19
    Sorry, but not really. If you lived on the BC coast I would offer you a very interesting studio lighting course though. For the most part, the best way to get even lighting is to .... evenly light the subject. There is very little a camera can do to change the lighting.

    Or Photoshop/Lightroom it. Lightroom has a graduated filter that may be able to even out uneven lighting.
     

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