Passport photos are one thing that I often recommend that people carry when traveling and have available at all times. You never know when you might need one. For example, if you lose your passport, you’ll likely need one at the embassy, and if you’re traveling under a visa, you’ll often have to provide one. Though you don’t need to pay for expensive passport photos. There are several free passport photo apps available for your smartphone to help you save money and time!

Process for DIY Passport Photos

I recently decided to try out a few of the passport apps that are available for download. They all pretty much function the same, so instead of doing a review of each one, I thought I’d walk you through the general process and give you some tips that I learned along the way.

I tried a couple of different iOS apps on my iPhone like Passport Photo, Passport Booth, and ID PhotoPrint. All are very similar in that they provide guidelines on how the photo should be framed. You’ll see that the apps show lines and silhouettes where your chin or face should fit in the photo. The apps essentially walk you through the process and explain what you should and should not do.

Once you’re done, the apps allow you to order a set of photos for much cheaper than you would pay to have them professionally done. Still, you’ll often have to wait for them to mail the photos to you. I do want to highlight that ID PhotoPrint allows you to actually email a copy of the photos in a 4×6 photo size, which you can then send to a printer and get a set of 6 to 12 photos for less than a dollar. The other apps will let you export photos for printing, but they give you the image in a format that either wastes space on the print or is in a size that can get distorted when you print it out.

If you find the process of doing your own passport photos to be cumbersome, then know that you have options. You can get passport photos at most pharmacies in the US, and the service is often offered at small shipping and travel-related businesses. For example, a smaller store in my area offers 6 passport photos for $20, which may seem expensive, but is still cheaper than what you would get a larger pharmacy.

If you decide to create your own passport photos, here are some tips to keep in mind.


1. Use a white background:

You’ll want to have a clean white background without any additional objects like plants or paintings.

2. Take off your glasses:

Passport photos require that you do not have anything blocking your face. So glasses should be removed before you take the photo.

3. Bounce light to reduce shadows:

You’ll want to avoid shadows in your picture. To do so, you may need to bounce light in your room. You don’t need a professional lighting kit either. Just placing household lights on both sides of you can help to fill in the shadows around your face.

4. Don’t smile:

While we should all try to smile more in life, the passport photo is apparently one instance where you should not smile!

5. Have someone take the picture (if possible):

It’s not only easier, but also your rear phone camera is often more robust than your front-facing camera. Plus, I found it much more difficult to get the right angle and lighting when trying to take a selfie with my phone camera.

Have you tried using one of these passport photo apps? If so, please share your experience in the comment section below.

References / Additional Information

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