15

How can I get an identity photo (eg for passports or other kinds of official documents, such as foreign visas) in the UK?

In France, for instance, there is the Photomaton group, which has booths in nearly every city, mostly in train stations and airports (and famously in the Amélie movie).

In the UK, the same group (http://www.photo-me.co.uk) has about 4 of them in the entire London area, all far from the city centre. So I wonder: how do people get this kind of pictures in the UK?

Note: googling for "uk printed identity photo" or something similar leads to several websites proposing how to print such photos, but the real challenge is taking them in the first place: given the number of constraints on such kinds of photos, it's unreasonable to expect people to take them using smartphones or point-and-shoot cameras: you need to control lighting, background, distance, etc. Which is the main advantage of using a photobooth for that.

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    There are photobooths in most supermarkets – BritishSam Jul 26 '18 at 9:12
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    @anol, as you say (for whatever reason) there is no one "large single brand" of these vending machines in the UK. (As you say "photomaton" is the well-known franchise in France.) But you will find them everywhere, with no problem. – Fattie Jul 26 '18 at 12:27
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    For me, the photo-me website is broken, and tries to find launderettes instead of photo booths. I wonder if you're getting the same. A Google map search is utterly useless too (based on testing a couple of known locations near me: a mainline station and a big supermarket). Bizarrely you can apparently phone them and enquire: Call 0800 035 66 00 to find the nearest photo booth equipped with digital passport photo services. (That's a freephone number, at least from a landline or UK mobile) – Chris H Jul 26 '18 at 13:50
  • @Fattie I don't recall seeing anything other than Photo-me for a long time (and that's actually the same company as photomaton by the look of things) – Chris H Jul 26 '18 at 13:51
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    I was surprised to learn the UK Passport service will accept a photo taken on your digital camera or smartphone, so long as it meets all their rules, and that there are still sufficient pixels left once they crop it so your head fits the frame properly. – Nick Jul 26 '18 at 19:15
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Passport photo machines are commonly found in UK railway stations and shopping centres.

There are also retail stores and a majority of pharmacies e.g. Snappysnaps that will take passport style photos.

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    Thanks for suggesting Snappysnaps. I find it a bit unfortunate however that there is no "large brand name" (as Photomaton in France) for photo booths, because even a Google query such as "uk photo booth" only results in websites selling or renting photo booths, but not a single one telling where to find existing ones. It must be a cultural given that UK people know they exist around these places, and never ask themselves the question. – anol Jul 26 '18 at 11:48
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    Photo-me machines do seem pretty common (at least in the London area where I live). The google search mentioned in the original question probably returned distribution / support premises rather than the location of individual machines. – Peregrine Jul 26 '18 at 12:56
  • @Fattie (Not true. For example in Switzerland the Situation is like in France) – Nobody Jul 26 '18 at 18:57
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    Also Jessops can take photos in store. – vclaw Jul 26 '18 at 20:31
  • I remember clearly it was not difficult at all taking a photo, due to the existence of such said machines...quite do not understand the point of the OP question. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 27 '18 at 1:33
21

Most large Post Offices offer this service - search ‘Post Office near me’ for a list of locations and services provided.

13

Photo-Me operate most photo booths. They don't appear to have a web map search, but you can phone them!

Call 0800 035 66 00 to find the nearest photo booth equipped with digital passport photo services.

says their website. That's a freephone number if you're calling from a UK mobile or landline.

  • astounding information! – Fattie Jul 26 '18 at 14:24
13

Many large supermarkets have an automated photo booth.

In one supermarket near me, there is an actual photographer who took my picture and printed copies on the spot. They are a better quality than from a booth, and only slightly more expensive.

There are also many independant photographers who may offer a similar service.

Edit:

The photo booths in supermarkets are usually located near the back, perhaps near the cafe or wash rooms. They are easily identifiable, as they proclaim what they do.

An internet seach of "photo booth near me" turned up a useful map showing the locations of different companies' booths.

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    Note that an actual photographer can work out cheaper if they get the photo done according to the (sometimes quite strict rules), and save you having to resubmit an application. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Jul 26 '18 at 10:56
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    Worth adding a picture like this so the Poster knows what they look like?. I might be being stupid, but if they haven't noticed them while walking about, maybe they look different in different countries? – Philbo Jul 26 '18 at 11:34
  • @Philbo the images of photo booths I found are probably copyright, but such images are easy to find. Your link serves the purpose. – Weather Vane Jul 26 '18 at 17:21
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Timpson stores often provide this service. It has more than 1,000 stores in the UK and Ireland and has a locator tool that lets you search by postcode, town or city and the service, Photo ID and Passport Photos.

  • This is a too short answer, it would be more fitting as comment. – Thorsten S. Jul 26 '18 at 19:48
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    It is an answer though, it answers the question. – Ian Turton Jul 26 '18 at 20:02
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    But if you live in the UK you will see them in every high street and many supermarkets – Ian Turton Jul 26 '18 at 21:05
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    +1 To Giorgio for turning this into a useful answer with links. – Dragonel Jul 26 '18 at 22:13
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    +1 for suggesting Timpsons. Their staff are trained to take passport quality photos and will keep retaking them until they get one that meets the official requirements – Valorum Jul 27 '18 at 19:45
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If you have a decent camera and some experience with lighting, you can take your own photos, I have done this. However you have to be even more scrupulous about following the rules exactly. In particular

  • plain white background - not a wrinkled bed-sheet etc. If you must use a wrinkled bedsheet, allow enough distance behind the subject and adjust aperture to throw it out of focus, also adjust exposure to deliberately blow the highlights and render a flat white background.
  • no smiling, mouth shut.
  • exact size, no borders.
  • exact framing of head. There are precise templates for positioning. This is the hardest to get right.

Generally this produces a boring unattractive photo, you just have to accept this.

If you apply for a passport through a post-office, they will notice if your photo has not been taken by a professional - mainly by looking at the printing on the reverse, they will then be extra meticulous in checking the photo and will reject it for the slightest hint of a possible deviation from their interpretation of the true spirit of the rules.

  • Having also used my own dSLR for this (both printed at home on a pretty good printer and sent off for pro printing) I agree it's perfectly possible. A "plain cream or light grey" background is the requirement and I used to have perfect curtains for this, but the "not cut down" is nonsensical and in fact at odds with the "no borders" and dimension requirements given how they're printed. – Chris H Jul 26 '18 at 14:39
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    If you apply for a British passport online, the digital photo that you upload is checked for acceptability before you are allowed to proceed. The criteria are different to a printed photograph. gov.uk/photos-for-passports/rules-for-digital-photos – David Marshall Jul 26 '18 at 15:00
  • This answer. I recently had a mobile-phone selfie accepted for a UK passport. Just do it properly and there's no problem. – Stewart Jul 27 '18 at 5:41
3

I personally like Jessops passport photo service despite the high price, especially when trying to get non-standard photos for countries outside the UK. They have various background colours (white, gray, beige, etc) and make sure all the measurements are correct to satisfy whatever crazy requirements need to be met. Most of the booths only do UK photos.

protected by Community Apr 21 at 17:05

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