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Have you ever paid for a passport picture that you hated? I did...once! I paid $12 for a picture I threw out with the trash. It was a horrible picture. It was so embarrassing that I learned how to do my own that day.

Since I was submitting passport applications for 3 of the kids, I figured I'd do a quick tutorial.

There are some rules to follow;

- Submit a color photo, taken in last 6 months

- Use a clear image of your face. Do not use filters.

- Selfies are not recommended BUT I did. (Bluetooth camera remotes, timers & tripods exist for this reason.)

- Use a plain white background.

- 2x2 sizing

- Head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 - 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.

I listed the general requirements but the full list of rules and regulations can be found here.

The sizing and background requirements had me believing I had to pay someone to take my picture. Don't fall for it. There are plenty of apps and online resources to help.

Background - Try doors and walls. We have taupe colored walls and white doors. The doors worked best. Originally I tried the bedroom doors but the garage door has a smooth finish that I was able to use. A white poster board or a projector screen work too.

Lighting - This might be a matter of time of day. I don't have any special lighting for this corner of the house. Natural light worked best for me. We have a lot of windows downstairs beaming natural light. I had to snap the pictures before the sun was too bright and shadows became an issue.

FYI; Our photo shoot was at 1:00 and I enhanced the white background with the free whitening tool in FaceTune. This edit is most obvious in my daughter's photo up top as I posted the photo/blog post before editing the others. If you pay for FaceTune or Photoshop, you can definitely replace the background that way too. Apple/Mac users can also use their editing tools to remove/replace the background with a solid white one.

My two cents; the whiter the better. Some passport processing clerks are not so nice with anything less than white. I've tried off white with no luck. I'm cheap though so I was willing to go back with another photo.

Passport Photos - This is the app I use to help with proper head placement. You can take the picture directly in the app by using the chin and forehead guides or you can import a photo from the camera roll and adjust head placement. Hit the checkmark when satisfied. The app allows you to save the photo by tapping the photo and selecting save. You'll most likely encounter ads. Hit no or x. Unfortunately the app only allows the single colored 2x2 to be saved and locks the other printing options. Unless you figure out a way to print the 2x2 don't pay for any additions. See the next step.

OddPrints - This site allows you to upload photos, confirm frame size and position it to be printed as a typical 4x6. It doubles up the 2x2's and positions them side by side to print as one 4x6 print. Choose file from camera roll, upload, hit next, confirm frame is correct (2x2), scroll down and hit download. The finished image will be displayed. Press and hold the image to "Add to Photos".

Printing - If you have photo paper and a printer, print at home. I used the Walgreens app to print my pictures. Simply login, upload images, select 4x6 and done. Walgreens has a 30% coupon right now and this Mama paid $0.71 for 3 - passport photos. Seventy-one cents! Taking photos at Walgreens or USPS would have been $40-$50, so before you go spending on a picture you'll hate, try taking your own first.

Xx Dee


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