From time to time, we need a photo that is then used on new passports, driving licenses, visas, health insurance cards or other kinds of IDs that the government might require us to have. While there’s nothing wrong with going the old-school way about getting passport photos, there are cheaper ways to go about this if you have some time for a bit of DIY and for reading all the steps of this guide and tutorial.
It’s also a good idea to check your local requirements for biometric aspects of your ID or passport. In some regions, you’re not allowed to wear glasses, smile, have hair covering parts of your face, or something else. The following tutorial passed official tests and got accepted as a passport photo, but you need to ensure that your local requirements are followed.
We tested all of these steps ourselves, and the final product was a new passport with a photo that was taken at home with minimal cost. So we know that the steps work and that, if all requirements are adhered to, you won’t get any trouble or end up paying a professional to take a snap and edit it for you.
What you need
You don’t need much to do all of this, but here’s a quick overview.
- A smartphone with a camera or regular camera
- A second person taking the shot or a tripod
- A computer with Internet access
Easy steps to create a proper portrait photo that gets accepted for ID cards and passports
Here’s our explanation of the required steps. While the tutorial involves several steps, we still tried our best to keep everything compact and added some information and screenshots so you can better understand what’s going on. Hopefully, you don’t mind us using this cure Optimus Prime plushie, but you surely get the idea.
Step 1: Taking the photo
You don’t need a cutting-edge smartphone or camera for this, but you really need to make sure that you manage the lighting and make sure there are no shadows in the face. This would most likely mean for the photo to be rejected by an official.
- Find yourself a white background (a wall with white wallpaper or paint will do fine).
- Stand in front of the wall with a distance of about 60 – 90 cm (23,6 – 35.4 in), so there will be no shadow on the wall.
- The person taking the photo (or tripod) should be standing at a distance of about 1.5 – 2 m (4.92 – 6.56 ft) to the person being photographed.
- Check the lighting and make sure there is no shadow in the face on either side. Ideally, you do this with daylight and maybe help with additional light spots if there is still some shadow.
Step 2: Get the right software and crop the picture
You may try other apps, but we worked with the US 2×2″ Photo Editor – Passport Size Photo at Home app on Android. There is surely a very similar app also available for iOS if you do a quick search on the App Store.
- Choose the right size in the app.
- Choose the photo that came out best from your gallery.
- Arrange the crop following the instructions of the app.
- Adjust image values such as brightness and contrast.
- Save the edited passport photo (skip this prompt without changing the background color unless you purchased the pro version).
Now you have finished the cropping and can begin with removing the photo’s background.
Step 3: Changing the background color
If you want to do all of this without paying for software or apps, you can just save the ID or passport photos as per the instructions above and now do the final step to removing the background outside of the editing app.
- Load up https://koutu.gaoding.com/, which is one of the more sophisticated tools to remove the backgrounds of images for free. You can also use an alternative if you like, but the steps below are for this site.
- Click here to upload your image or check the video instructions if you want to understand the tool better.
- Select the right mode.
- The blue plus icon means “to keep,” the red minus icon means “remove part.”
- Edit the details in case the automated image processing didn’t work flawlessly.
- Change the background color to white.
- As of now, there is a watermark, but once you log in, you can save the passport photo just fine.
- The last step now is to save and download the file.
- The login options are either to use a cell phone number or log in with your WeChat account if you have one.
- Now you can choose an image format for your ID photo download. PNG supports alpha-transparent backgrounds but has a larger file size. JPG does not support alpha transparency but is smaller than a PNG.
So by now, you have a great passport or ID photo that you can use. The next step helps you to be ready the file for printing.
Step 4: Print the passport photos out
Again we have a tool suggestion for this step, but you are free to use an alternative if you like another provider more.
- Load up the tool “Free Passport Photos Online” in your browser.
- Choose your region and what kind of ID you want to use your photo for.
- Select the free DIY option and navigate to the next step.
- Upload your photo file now and select the paper size you plan to use.
- Finalize everything and download the edited photo.
- Now you can print this out either yourself if you have a decent printer or go to a store that lets you print out photos with proper quality.
If you follow all of these steps, you can save a good amount of money. Whether you used to go to a professional photographer, used an automated machine, or used some kind of paid web service, all of that would cost you between 5 and 25 bucks, depending on where you go. If you don’t have a photo-quality printer at home, there will still be a bit of cost for the final step of printing your ID photos out, but it will be a batch of photos too, and you’ll be able to use these for various occasions. Just cut one out and keep the rest in your drawer.
YouTube: How to take your own passport photos (Sharon Vaknin, CNET)
Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Fabrice Michaudeau.