Passport Printing:
Passport printing represents a substantial portion of printing profitability, and it can be too easy to overlook the essentials. Consumers expect a high level of photographic skills from your staff, and place their trust in your company that their passport photo will fit the DIA requirements - they are willing to pay top dollar for this - and there are a few simple steps to take in ensuring success. Something that your customers will reward you with by promoting your store to their acquaintances.
  • Background screen, for passport backdrop
  • Distances
  • Lighting
  • Flash
  • Camera's ability
  • Staff Skills
Brief Guideline:

Passport Production Software:

We recommend using a professional software for passport production, ID Passport Express is the latest Biometric software available, you can also use a kiosk software or even Adobe Photoshop. The benefits of a good software is the ability to save time and manage the stringent requirements most countries now have for passport photos.

Passport Screen:

We recommend using a matte ie. not a glossy screen. A smooth glossy surface attenuates shadows, whilst a rougher screen will tend to scatter the shadow making it less obvious. Contact us if you need details on what is best.


Ideally, position subject 1 to 1 meters from backdrop to reduce shadowing and maximise use of separation light. Allow 1 to 1 meters distance between camera and subject.

If you are experiencing lighting difficulties, try getting your subject to stand as close to the passport screen as possible. This helps reduce shadow behind the head, and especially below the ears (a common reason for passport rejection). Depending on your lighting and other equipment you should stand 3-4 m away from the subject and use the OPTICAL zoom feature on the camera to size the head in the picture. This distance is especially important if you are using the camera's flash to compensate for bad store lighting. If you use a flash and stand too close to the subject you will white-out (overexpose) their face (eg. a bald forehead will bee too shiny to see details).

Map out your sites optimum distances and mark the area for staff.

Store Lighting

Studio Lighting is the ideal solution when taking passport photos, however if you cannot put in a studio, there are some basic rules that will help stop common issues when taking passports

  • Do not have any direct overhead lights
  • Do not have the light source to one side of the subject
  • Do not take photos with the subject standing in front of a strong light (eg the shop window!)
  • Using LED daylight in place of flourescent or Metal Halide lights helps create the correct colour for lighting.

White Balance (W/B WB)

When you take a photograph, the ambient lighting in the store can shade your photo. This effect is similar to wearing shaded sunglasses, and a white colour will appear the shade of the store lighting. To compensate for this most cameras in Auto mode will attempt to determine this colour off-set, and adjust tomake the whites look white. Unfortunately, often different colour clothing affects the auto setting, making it difficult to take consistent coloured photos.

Use your camera in P (Programmable) mode, refer to your Camera manual, and change the WB from Auto, to the best setting for your store's lighting (eg Flourescent).

Typical White balance options on Cameras:

We suggest holding a white piece of paper against the backdrop, and making the adjustment looking at the colours whilst aiming at the white paper. Once you have determined the best setting for the store's lighting set the camera to this. (the adjustment for WB is usually not available in AUTO mode)

Adjusting the white balance in the above image removed the blue tint from the photo. This will ensure you get consistant coloured images when taking passports.


Flash helps correct unsatisfactory store lighting, however it inevitably creates shadows behind the subject, to minimise these have the subject stand at least 1m from the backdrop, it is also advisable to stand 2 to 3m from the subject and zoom in. (this reduces the bright spots common on bald foreheads when using a flash)

If you need to get rid of shadows a triggered flash unit can be placed to flash behind the subjects head and so destroy the shadows.


The most suitable Camera for Passports is a Digital SLR like the Canon EOS, after that select a camera that has a flash directly over the lense, and has programmable ISO and White Balance settings.

  • a good optical zoom
  • a flash directly above the lense
  • take at least a 4Mb photo (3-6 megapixel camera)
  • have a fast response when the button is pressed


Passport links
NZ Dept of Internal affairs