Posted on Aug 5, 2011 in Tech & internet, Travel
It seems simple enough, so can I take and print my own passport photos — or do I have to pay a company to produce these bland little pix?
You can definitely take your own passport photos, and print them at home or send them to a photo company to be printed.
The benefits of DIY passport photography include saving money, avoiding lines, and having the time to mug for the camera until you get a shot you actually like.
The downside? The government is picky, picky, picky when it comes to what can be — and cannot be — in your photos. Here’s a list of just a few of their requirements:
Despite all the warnings, it’s really not hard to skip the passport photographer and take your own photo at home. You need some decent lighting (it can’t create any shadows on you or your face at all), a white or off-white wall and a camera. Then, try to look as normal and bland as possible, look straight into the camera and keep those eyes open.
Your next step is to check out the photo on your computer, and retake if needed, or fix any little things (like there not being enough contrast, a little too bright, etc). Then crop the image to meet the guidelines, and resize it to a 600 pixel-wide square. Realize that when you’re viewing on the web or your computer, this will look big — but print photography requires a greater number of dots per square inch. (Get the full details here: Why do my web photos print so badly?)
The Department of State also offers a free photo tool to resize your photo, rotate it if necessary, and to crop it to size so you can save it for printing.
Print out your pictures out on photo-quality paper — not regular 8-1/2×11 paper stock. If you don’t have a printer that can handle photo printing (or don’t want to invest in the ink and paper needed), upload your pictures to a mail or local photo printer — many offer same-day service. Remember: You will need two identical copies of your picture to go with your passport application!
You can either cut your picture to the exact size yourself, or if you’re worried about making a mistake, bring it as-is to the passport agency and they can trim it to size.
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