Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Examples of proper passport photographs from travel.state.gov.
It happens to all of us, professionals and amateurs alike. You can almost hear the question coming before the speaker opens his or her mouth. DO YOU DO PASSPORT PHOTOS!

Before you hang your head, roll your eyes or something worse, consider your options.

Of course, you could tell them that for around $12 they could go to a drug store or any number of stores that are set up to do this kind of thing. You could let them know that in certain city's there are mobile studios set up right outside the immigration building that will do it lickety-split.

Or consider for just a moment that you can invest ten minutes of your time and take the photo yourself.

And finally, maybe you are the one who needs a passport photo. After all, you have all the equipment to get it done, so why would pay someone else to do it.

Maybe it is so easy to do that even if you are reading this and don't consider yourself a photographer, you'll be able to do it.

Using the Department of State's free photo tool takes all the guesswork out of crop and sizing your final image.
What do you need?

A digital camera (even a new phone would do), a white or off-white wall and plenty of natural or artificial light.

What you don't need is software or more specifically expensive software such as Adobe Photoshop to crop and size your photos. So if this was the barrier that kept you from fulfilling the passport photo request, keep reading.

The most time-consuming and intimidating part of the process for most people is normally the sizing of the final image, according to very specific guidelines from the federal government. You've heard the whole "2 x 2 inches sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head." What, and how do I make that happen?

This is one of the few times that the government has made something really simple. Upload you photo to this website and use the tool to resize and save the photo. That's it. It takes all the guess work out of the sizing and cropping process.

Unless you have a photo printer in your home, you will still need to visit that drug store to print your new passport photo on either matte or glossy paper, but at 29¢ per print, you can also afford to print a few extras for Mom.

Additional resources:

Photographer's Guide
Photo Requirements
Frequently asked photo questions

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