Getting a passport isn’t cheap. The government charges about $140 just for the privilege of having your passport paperwork processed. Many people don’t realize that the cost does not include getting your passport photo taken. Passport application centers will charge anywhere between $10-$20 for that service, in addition to the $140 processing fee. This extra charge may make you want to learn how to take your own passport photo. Luckily, It’s easy and cheap to do. All you need is a camera, a friend, photo paper, and access to a computer with a color printer.
- The first thing you want to do is take the picture. A digital SLR camera would be best, but the cameras on smartphones are of a high enough quality for this photo, since it will be printed very small (2”x2”). Stand or sit on a stool in front of a white or off-white background in a well-lit room. No shadows may be cast on your face, and you may not wear sunglasses, scarves, or any other head covering in your photo unless you wear it daily for religious purposes. Prescription glasses may be worn, given that they do not create a glare in the photograph.
- Your friend must take the picture from a straight angle. No side views or high/ low angles are allowed in passport photos.
- This is important: You may not smile. No matter how happy you are to be planning your trip abroad, you must maintain a neutral expression in your passport photo.
- Have your friend snap the picture. In fact, they should take a few, just in case you look funny in one of them (or you smile on accident because you’re so excited to learn how to take your own passport photo!)
- Transfer the photos to your computer.
- In an image editor (I use the Apple Photo App for this kind of basic project) crop your image to a square that includes just your head and shoulders. Your face should take up between ½ and ¾ of the frame, and there should be about ⅛ to ¼ inch of empty space above your head.
- After you have cropped your image, resize it. In your image editor, look for the ‘image size’ option. Change the image size to exactly 2 inches by 2 inches.
- Print 2 copies of your image on photo-quality paper.
- Take the photos to your passport application center. They will attach them you your passport application.
Now that you know how to take your own passport photo, you can spend that money you saved on a gorgeous souvenir while you’re traveling!