Monday, March 28, 2011

DIY: Passport Photos

Everyone knows that traveling is expensive. And sometimes, all the little details you have to take care of before you even GET anywhere can really add up!

Passport photos are ridiculously expensive. For two tiny 2x2 pictures, the going rate is between $12 and $15, and they are usually just about as good as your driver's license photo. Nice.

Here is a little tutorial if you need a passport photo and you want to take them yourself.

1.) Go to this site and check out the official requirements for a US Passport photo. The list is long, but don't let this deter you!

2.) Use your digital camera, and take a picture against a white or off-white background (ie. closet door, blank wall, hang a sheet) of the person from the chest up and leave plenty of space above their head. If possible, use natural light (no flash) from a window to avoid shadows on the face or behind the head.

This is definitely not Seth's normal smile, but it was his best attempt at a "neutral expression". I should have saved some of the others. They ranged anywhere from a serious scowl to a deliriously giddy smile.

Some of the most important requirements to remember, especially when photographing kids, are to have their shoulders squared to you with them looking straight towards the camera. No head tilt, neutral expression, and both ears must be showing. Think mug shot... :-)

3.) Now take your picture, and upload it to
It is really user friendly, takes you through things step by step, and helps you crop your picture to the exact specifications for a passport photo. There is only one tricky step - after you are satisfied with your picture, it takes you to a page where you seemingly have to buy prints of your photos through the mail with them. I almost quit at this point, because they had advertised they were completely free, but then I looked down in the bottom corner and there is small link that says "no thanks". Click that, and you can download your rescaled photos for free!

This is how they come out looking (they are sized to be printed as 4x6's):

After downloading these to my computer, I simply sent them to the 1-hour Photo Center at Target and got two copies of each and my grand total was $ .80! For very minimal effort on my part, I saved money AND the hassle of taking both my kids to a photo shop to get the pictures taken. Sometimes it is totally worth it to D.I.Y.


Jen said...

Thanks, Courtney! I've never heard of that site. And you're getting these done because...?

blissful_e said...

Fantastic! Passport photos are even more expensive here in Australia. We just did ours but haven't sent them in... I'm very tempted to do them again, at home!

Anonymous said...

in the first sample the head is bended a little.
so this photo will not accepted.
what is the solution?
for example try this:
or rotate your photo by a proper angle before you will upload it.
idphoto4you more accurate than epassportphoto.

Anthony Ho said...

I tried and found the way to crop the picture is kinda weird. Once you drag the box, you can't resize it again. And not to mention the annoying advertisement. The tool on Department of State's web site works, but I had to make it 4x6 manually myself.

Not satisfied with either solutions, I wrote my own tool in Java. Take a look and hopefully it helps.