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23 Feb

This World-Famous Musician Perfects The Art of the Passport Photo, and Now You Can, Too.

There’s no denying that getting your passport photo done can make it difficult to incorporate a little extra style and flair–especially considering the federal requirements that need to be met. But don’t lose hope: enigmatic musician and performer Prince is here to show us how it’s done. This was taken just before his latest world tour, which started on February 16 in Australia.

Now, looking at the lighting and quality of the photo, you might think it’s a bit unusual, but the legendary artist meets every requirement for passport photos outlined by the U.S. Department of State. These requirements are:

Full color photo
Dimensions should be 2” x 2” (51mm x 51mm)
Sized such that the head is between 1” and 1 ⅜” (or 25mm and 35mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
Taken within the last 6 months, so as to reflect your current appearance
Background of the photo is entirely white or off-white
Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
Facial expression is neutral (preferred) or a natural smile, with both eyes open and easily visible

Now, what did Prince do differently here to make himself stand out? The main key that makes this picture stand out is the lighting, which looks to professionally done to highlight his facial features while still adding a little bit of dynamic shadow to the background for contrast. This effect–well-placed lighting–creates a photo that is both accurate and visually striking. Plus, you get a great look at his eyeliner! The crispness of the wings on the outer corners are masterfully done.

Another thing Prince did right was wear an outfit that was still evocative of his signature style, but with notable subtlety in color and more emphasis on texture, so as to make his face the focal point of the passport photo. This is especially important for photography for important documents because it allows the face to be more easily recognized, even when printed in black and white, while allowing the subject of the photo to express their sartorial individuality in a meaningful way.

So, in summary, here is what you can do to achieve a perfect, Prince-quality passport photo:

Be mindful of federal requirements, as outlined above
Wear an outfit that contrasts with your skin tone to draw more attention to your face
Arrange your lighting carefully and make sure your face is facing fully forward
A neutral expression is preferred, but you can still smile a little if you’d like!
The quality of the photo you’re taking matters, but so does the print quality, even if it’s supposed to be only 2”x2”!
For digital photos, print them out on matte or glossy photo paper at 300 pixels per inch.
The Department of State’s passport site has a photo tool that can help you put together the passport photo you need to get traveling in style!

Happy traveling! If you need your passport renewed, updated, or you’re looking to get your very first one for international travel, Texas Tower has you covered.

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