Because their standards are just deplorable. I don't know "why" that is, it's just a fact. If it weren't so easy to get bad passport photos to pass the US Passport officials in America, then drug stores and auto clubs likely wouldn't be doing them. Why is it those places don't do foreign passports? Because they wouldn't pass the discerning eye of passport officials in foreign consulates, that's why.
Although the US Passport office has written and published "standards," they almost NEVER reject images that don't meet those standards. Poor lighting? Who cares. Out of focus? No big deal. Color balance out of whack? So? Head size incorrect? No. One. Cares. Certainly not the US Consulate.
So, allow me (someone whose job it is to successfully meet the passport photo standards of consulate officials all over the planet) to rank the top five BEST passport photos on Earth...
- Australia - they have the highest print resolution on the planet and provide an opaque overlay to confirm the correct head size. Newsome's Studio is one of only a dozen photographers statewide, approved by the Australian consulate to create an Aussie passport photo.
- Canada - the largest passport photo on the planet (50x70mm) and their head size, lighting, and expression are closely scrutinized by the Canadian Consulate. NO SMILING!
- Jamaica - they're the only country that requires a matte finish and they have three background options based on skin tone and hair color. They might've been smoking something when they wrote those specs, but they'll darn sure reject the images if those specs aren't followed to the letter.
- China - at 33x48mm for the outer dimension size, they have the oddest sized passport photo on the planet. In addition, one is required to wear dark clothing with a conservative neckline. Quite often, I loan these clients a black high school graduation gown to meet that standard.
- Greece - another unusual size (40x50mm), and their consulate will inspect it closely to see that it matches and the quality must be superb. Fortunately, I've visited with the Greek consulate in downtown Tampa and they're very happy with the images taken at Newsome's Studio.
Out of the 195 countries on the planet Earth, I'm confident that the US consulate's standard of quality for passport photos would place America at #195. So, "Yay America!"
All of this doesn't mean that your US Passport Photo HAS to be horrible, just that it CAN be. If you'd rather have a GREAT passport photo, call Newsome's Studio of Photography at 813-968-2810 and we promise to apply Aussie-like quality standards to your face and make custom agents around the world raise an eyebrow of approval at every border.
Newsome's Studio is located at 10012 N. Dale Mabry Hwy, Suite 219, Tampa, FL.