No matter what country your passport is from, there is NO SMILING allowed in your passport photo. There’s a good reason for that, I’ll explain…
In an effort to defeat terrorism and prevent bad guys from moving freely between countries, most all governments now use facial recognition software. This software marks the corners of the mouth and eyes, which naturally distort when you smile. The governments scan your passport photo when creating your passport and run it through this software looking for bad guys. Evidently, bad guys never smile in THEIR photos, so in an effort to find them, no one else is allowed to smile either!
Make sense? Well, it does to me, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Most recently, the US government banned you from wearing your eyeglasses in your US passport photo. As of November 1, 2016, no more eyeglasses – period. That was a first. Most all countries make note that if you wear eyeglasses, there must not be a glare on the lens or the frames, and a few countries have banned “thick framed glasses,” but the NO eyeglasses in a passport was a BIG step, and it came from the US which has historically been the most lax of all governments when it came to the quality of a passport photo.
The US is still a bit more lax than most countries regarding smiling, however. They WILL accept a closed-mouth smile, but only a very faint one. No open mouths, no teeth, just a more relaxed, pleasant expression is considered acceptable. Other countries literally want you to look stoic – downright angry it seems. I once had a Canadian passport photo rejected because they said “she’s smiling.” Problem was, she WASN’T smiling, she simply had a very pronounced dimple when giving a “stoic” expression. I reshot the image and it looked exactly the same! The woman looked like Betty White, for crying out loud. Betty White ALWAYS looks like she’s smiling! So I did what the Canadian government required of her, I went into Photoshop and removed her dimple! She called me, so excited a few weeks later… “IT PASSED!” I said, “Yeah, but it doesn’t really look like you.” She replied “I don’t care, the only person to ever see it, likely won’t even speak my language!” HAH!
So, bottom line is, when it comes to your passport photo, don’t worry about your expression – it’s meant to protect you and the rest of us from “bad guys.” Suck it up and let it be.
For the very best, professionally created passport photos in the business, contact Newsome’s Studio of Photography at 813-968-2810 and schedule a ten minute appointment. Or for more information, visit the website’s Passport page.