Mugshot, Maynooth, 2009

It’s time again, I need a new passport and thus some up-to-date photos of myself. Possessing all that photographic gear, why not try to make them myself? Last time I paid 11 EUR for them and the main street photographer just used a trusty old Canon 350D with a cheapish Sigma 18-200mm lens (from what I remember, set to around 60mm i.e. 96mm considering the 1.6x crop factor), plus some minor studio equipment: In short, nothing a mere mortal couldn’t reproduce.

I then had a read up on the official specs of the Bundesdruckerei (the German Federal Printing Office) and decided that the conditions there aren’t too hard to meet either.

So I set up my two studio flashes with their softboxes in our living room, tethered the camera to LightRoom, grabbed a remote release, and off I shot. Here’s a small making-off shot. After about 10 shots of adjusting my head, I finally go the image right (as far as I can see).

Finally some pimple-removing (this photo will be on my passport for 10 years, so a bit of vanity is o.k.) and more importantly: careful cropping according to the specifications (35x45mm, with nose, eyes, chin etc. in appropriate locations), and I was done. To get prints, I reproduced the picture eight times on a 6×4 canvas and dropped the file off at the chemist.

While I don’t know if the embassy will take it, I don’t know why they shouldn’t. I’ll let you know if it worked!

UPDATE: It worked perfectly fine. Ironically, the guy on the counter next to me went to a local photographer to get his passport picture taken, and they rejected it!


  1. They really did work — the embassy accepted them without even blinking (but still having checked them with their official template).

    In fact, there was a girl on the counter next to me whose photos made by a professional photographer were rejected (!) because they were not made according to the relatively strict standards. She had payed 25 EUR for them…

  2. Oh my god! I wonder why it is so much more complicated to get a passport in the embassy compared to the procedure in any German city hall.

  3. Not a 100% sure, but I’d be really, really surprised if they accepted it in digital form. There’s a lot of “physical” stuff you have to hand in anyway, like copies of your birth certificate etc. (for which you have to show them the original, while you’re there, as far as I understand it)…

  4. Could you try to find out if the embassy also accepts digital images? Or do they forward the hard copy of your passport application to the Bundesdruckerei?

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