What’s that you say? You need an abundance of cheap passport photos?
Please, for the love of Pete, do not make my mistake. Do not go down to your local Walgreens or CVS store and get them done there. It may seem like it is convenient, but here’s why it is a bad idea:
- That kid working the photo counter was just trained yesterday on how to use the equipment and you’ll be his/her first customer.
- Oh, and they’ll be able to get to you right after they check-out those 8 people in line in front of you.
- You only get one try at your photo so you’d better make it a good one!
- It’ll cost you over $10 per person for two (2) lousy photos of the proper size.
If you only need a couple of photos every 10 years for your passport renewal, this may be acceptable. If you are moving to new country, applying for visas, international driving permits, and to foreign schools, you will need umpteen numbers of passport photos. All potentially in different sizes, so…
Here’s what to do instead
What you need:
- A decent digital camera
- A full night’s rest
- A white background
- A solid color shirt that is not a turtleneck (pants completely optional)
What you do:
- Stand in front of your white background near a window on a bright day (but not in direct sunlight). The goal is to stand/sit in front of the background in such a way that there aren’t any shadows being cast behind you.
- Have a friend take a close-up photograph of your mug. Make sure your eyes are positioned in the upper half of the photo. The closer, (usually) the better. Oh, and make sure the photo is relatively level and that nothing but your chest is cut-off.
- Repeat Steps 1 & 2 until you are happy with the result.
- Navigate to OddPrints.com and upload your digital photo, select your needed passport size (US and UK are presets) or any other custom size.
- Click ‘Download‘ and this will crop and save your image to a 4″x6″ photo image. If you select US passport size, this will fit two (2) images on one download. A smaller UK passport size will fit eight (8!) passport images on one download.
- Save the image file to a thumb drive or keep it on your camera’s memory card.
- Hike over to your local Walgreens or CVS, insert your thumb drive or memory card into their photo print machine.
- Proceed to print out as many 4″x6″ photos as you need – all with two (2) or more passport photos on each print. My local Walgreens charged me $0.35 per print.
- If the attendant behind the photo counter is available, you can even ask him/her to cut the passports photos to the appropriate size for you. This is made easier if you elect to ‘Show Guidelines‘ (within the Extra Options) before you download your photo from OddPrints.com.
A couple of notes:
- I think passport print shops are a racket and there is plenty of documentation out there to scare you that you can’t do this yourself. For U.S. passports, simply follow these guidelines and you’ll be good to go.
- If you’d prefer not to leave your house, you can also order your passport photos directly from OddPrints.com.
- These instructions to not work for Canadian passports whose photos need to be taken by a commercial photographer.
- If you search for cheap passport photos, one of the first sites in the results will be ePassportPhoto.com. They advertise themselves as a low-cost alternative but when I uploaded my own passport photos and directed them to print at my local Walgreens, the price was still around $8 per person. Maybe I’m missing something, but I prefer my method.