These are now scanned and must conform to strict criteria explained in the application pack.
They must be a certain size and have a light background.
They must be full face and without anybody else in the picture, this tends to happen when babies are held up to the camera. The best way if possible is to lay the baby down and take the photo from above.
You must supply two identical photos which must have been taken recently - been taken within four weeks of when lodging the passport application.
Various types of passport applications require the form and one of the photos to be countersigned by a professional person who has known the person signing section 9 for a minimum of two years.
In effect what the countersignature is doing is stating that he/she knows you, that you are who you say you are and that to the best of their knowledge the information you have provided in the form is correct. He/she is acting as a referee for you and because they are professionally qualified they can be identified by the Passport Office.
They must sign and date both the form and photo after the applicant has completed it. If they knowingly make a false statement they could be liable to prosecution.
The Passport Office now carries out checks on countersignatures and frequently telephones them, so they need to be available in case they have to be contacted. They should also be a British or Irish Citizen and have a passport.
If the countersignature is Irish this can slow the verification process as it takes longer to confirm the Irish passport number. When countersigning an application for a child (anyone under 18) it is the person signing section 9 that you must know for a minimum of two years, not the child.
NB the countersignature MUST complete section 10 in their own hand, you cannot fill it in for them and then get them to sign it.