DIY Passport Photo

I recently needed to get a new passport, as mine had expired. And to do that, I needed a new photo. I’d not had any taken recently enough to use.

But I hate that passport photos cost so much.

I mean, really, $15 isn’t that much. But it’s the principle of the thing. They charge $15 for 2 tiny photos, because they know that you need them and you’ll pay the price they ask.

But…there’s a pretty easy way to get around that, provided you have a digital camera, or a camera phone.

Now, you can’t take a selfie, because your arms need to be down at your side for the photo. So you can have someone help you, or you can rig something up, and use the timer. Whatever works for you.

  1. Take your picture. The picture needs to be landscape, not portrait. This will be important later.
    No glasses, no smile. I do miss being able to smile for the photo. Looks like a mug shot…
    White or off-white background.
    Be careful of shadows. This is one of the hardest details. You don’t want to use a flash and wash yourself out, but you need to be sure that there aren’t shadows around your head. However, my Dad had his passport photo taken at Walmart, and almost didn’t get his passport in time because the picture had too many shadows.
    Find all of the specific requirements here.
  2. Crop your photo. What I did was look at the passport photos my parents had recently had done. I cropped the photo so that I fit height-wise into the frame the same way that theirs did in their photos. It will still be a rectangular photo. Don’t worry, that’s what you want.
    DSCF2713 (3)
  3. Upload the picture onto, and order wallet prints. For 99 cents, you get 4 wallet sized prints, which are 2″x3″. And Walgreens is fast. You can often get your photos within a few hours of ordering them.
  4. Cut half an inch off of each side of the photo. I used a 2-inch square to be sure that I had the right sizing. Be sure that you are centred in the square.
  5. Carefully staple the photo to your passport application, and mail it in. You can keep the other three photos in case you need a photo for visa applications in the near future. Or write a message on the back and give it to your sweetheart. Though, since you’ll look like a grouch, you may lose your sweetheart…
  6. Start making travel plans while you wait impatiently for your passport to arrive.

There you go. For a buck, and a few extra minutes, you can do your own passport photo. Heck, I’m not even wearing trousers in mine :~) As long as you’re careful to follow the requirements, you should have no problems.

Let me know how it works if you try it out.


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