Personally, I have always dreaded the passport photo experience. Walking into some random drugstore or Kinkos, and crossing my fingers that (1) the employee knows how to use the camera – seriously – and (2) my photos will come out somewhat decently without some lame smile or my eyes closed.
And that’s for (mostly) grown-up me.
What about for kids? Even if all goes well with the employee and the equipment, there’s absolutely no guarantee that my little kiddos are going to cooperate. At almost 10 dollars for TWO photos that may or may not be acceptable, I started the hunt for another solution.
Voila! I found ePassportPhoto.com. And, I LOVE it.
It’s incredibly easy, but I’ll walk it through with you. Just in case.
The first feature you’ll notice on the home page is the ability to select your country. I’ve always chosen the US, even for my German visa photos. I haven’t had a problem yet (though, that’s not to say I never will).
After selecting your country, click “Get My Passport Photos.” The next screen gives you instructions on how to take your photos in order to get the best result.
And this, here, is the genius of the DIY passport photo… You can take as many as you want – or as many as you need which is usually the case with children. Fix your hair, practice your smile, change your outfit. It’s your camera, your time, your space.
If you can, take your photos in the morning when there’s lots of natural light to be found. I pick a white wall, turn off the flash, open all the blinds, and tell my boys that if they stay perfectly still and let Mama take some seriously boring photos of them, they can have a gummy bear (yep, one – I’m incredibly generous).
Doc Sci and I then alternate taking each other’s photo. I almost always take three of each person (more of the kids if they don’t cooperate).
Download the pictures to your computer, and save them in whatever program suits your fancy. Pick the best one (edit it if you’d like, but don’t change the background or add disguises like I did), and upload it to ePassportPhoto, using the “Browse” button. Then, click “Next.”
When your photo finishes uploading, you’ll then be prompted to click and drag a box around the subject’s face. If you don’t get it right, just use the “Clear” button and try again. Pay attention to the instructions in the “Ensure Compliance” box.
The following screen is the only part of the website I don’t like. It’s confusing, and it pressures you a bit to spend money. I said these were free, and I want you to know that IS possible.
However, if you feel more comfortable ordering a service from ePassportPhoto.com, know that it is STILL cheaper than going to a drugstore and you got to take your photos in the comfort of your own home, on your own time.
Have I ever paid for a pro to look at my picture? Yes, once. I thought it was a waste. I’m pretty sure the “expert” was the Walgreens guy in the photo lab where I printed my picture. Plus, you do not get your photos instantly, and often I need them right now.
If you want to print them yourself, click the small, grey link at the bottom of the page, “No thanks.”
The final page is where the free option comes in. I always choose the first button, “Download the passport photo sheet image.” If you print your photos at home, click away until your printer starts humming, and you’re done!
I download the image, save it, and then transfer it to a flash drive. I take the flash drive to my local photo printing shop, and pay 27 cents for one sheet of four passport photos. Mine aren’t totally free, but just over a buck for the whole family is good enough for me!