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How to make your own passport photos

Updated on July 24, 2015

Why make your own passport size photo?


1. It is so easy to make your own passport size photo if you have a digital camera, a computer and a photo editing software which most people already own these days.

2. It saves you money. Why pay the ridiculous amount of money the studios charge for a couple of passport size photos? Chains like Walgreens, CVS, Kinkos charge about $8 and professional photo studios may charge about $30 just for 2 passport size photos. For a family for four people, if you do-it-yourself you will be saving about $100. This adds up to much more for immigrants who generally take passport pictures for many applications like visa renewal, travel documents, etc.

3. I have had bad experiences in chain stores where they don't take good photos. The photo was dark and I was worried if it will get rejected. You can take better pictures yourself at your own home at your own leisure.

Step-by-step instructions to make your own passport photo


1. Take a few nice color photos of the person using your digital camera.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The person should be looking at the camera. Use a plain white or off-white background.
  • The person should be wearing normal street attire.
  • Uniforms should not be worn in photographs except religious attire that is worn daily.
  • Do not wear a hat or headgear that obscures the hair.
  • If you normally wear prescription glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, they should be worn for your picture.
  • There should not be any shadow in the background. So, I do not use Flash. I make sure there is enough light falling directly on the person.

Refer to U.S. Department of State for passport requirements.

Download all the pictures to your computer from the camera. Choose the one that you are satisfied with. Do not be let down by this long article. Think about how much money you will be saving by making your own passport photos.

I will be using the following picture as an example:

Passport photo demo in Photoshop
Passport photo demo in Photoshop

I know this is not the best picture, but I like this one and will be using this just for demonstrating the technique. You should be wearing better clothing and hair in your passport photo.

2. Use a photo editing software to crop the 2" x 2" region you want. This is the required size of passport photo in the U.S. The passport size requirement varies between different countries.

I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS2 to show you how its done. You can use any photo editing software. Most of them have the tools that I will be using.

Open your passport photo in Adobe Photoshop CS2

Click on the Edit menu -> Preferences -> Units & Rulers

In the dialog, change the units to "pixels" as shown below:

Photoshop preferences dialog
Photoshop preferences dialog

Measure the distance (in pixels) from the top of the head to the chin

  • Use measure tool
  • Hold on Shift while dragging the mouse ( to get vertical drag )
  • The "D1" value gives the vertical distance in pixels
  • this D1 should be 1 - (1 3/8)th inches of the 2x2 photo


Photoshop measure tool location
Photoshop measure tool location
Photoshop measure tool in action
Photoshop measure tool in action

Calculate faceDist = D1 divided by 1.1 In our example faceDist = 138/1.1 = 125.4 (we will make it 125)

Select the Marquee tool

Select Fixed Size option and enter 2 times faceDist for the Width and Height options

Place the selection over the face region with the nose in the center of the selection as shown below:

Photoshop selection tool shown
Photoshop selection tool shown

Ctrl-C to copy selection. Note that this selected region will be your passport photo.

Select File -> New in Adobe Photoshop

Ctrl-V to paste the previous selection

Use the move tool in Adobe Photoshop to move the selection to the top left corner of the canvas.

Photoshop with one passpost photo
Photoshop with one passpost photo

Do Steps (10) and (11) five more times to get 6 pictures aligned as shown below in the Adobe photoshop document. You can even save the document as a jpeg file or in its original format.

Final passport photo to be printed
Final passport photo to be printed

Passport photo in Adobe Photoshop

Save the final passport photo in Adobe Photoshop as a jpg file and print it using your digital printer. If you don't have one or if your printer prints with dots, go to a nearby walgreens or walmart and print your passport picture for 10 cents.

If you choose to submit digitized photos, they must meet the same requirements of all passport photographs. In addition, digitized photographs are always produced on digital printers. Some printers will produce a photograph in which the dots are seen. Visible dots distort the image by making it look grainy. Acceptable photos have a continuous tone image that looks very photo-like.


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    • profile image

      PRAKASH KUMAR PRAMANIK 3 years ago


    • Vector design profile image

      Saim 4 years ago from California

      Really so good hub. Very informative tips you share. i think this hub is more useful for beginners in Adobe Photoshop.Thanks for sharing with all of us. i vote for useful.

    • ChristinCordle12 profile image

      ChristinCordle12 6 years ago

      Great job and useful hub.Thanks for posting.

    • profile image

      Victor 6 years ago

      Hi nice tutorial. But would be tiresome when creating many passport photos. I use to create passport photos for free.

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      TechGeek 6 years ago

      Nice work.

    • profile image

      JEF 6 years ago



    • profile image

      Bruce 6 years ago

      Photo editing software is free these days and usually comes with the purchase of a camera. You do not need photoshop to crop and print 2 by 2 photos. There really is no need for you to dole out 10 bucks to a chain store when their "technicians" most likely have less photography experience than the average person with a point and shoot camera. I pride myself on being able to accomplish daunting tasks but this really isn't much of a challenge if you follow the instructions. But then again, some people just don't have the time to fiddle around with such a project and should opt for a "professional" to complete the task. Whatever works for you.

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      Mike 6 years ago

      Yes, the girl in the photo should not be smiling as much as she is. The instructions suggest: Encourage subject to have a natural expression. I take that as a slight smile is ok but not her big smile - although she is quite beautiful.

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      Photographer Indonesia 7 years ago

      Good tutorial for digital camera owner.

    • profile image

      Régis 7 years ago

      This photo will be rejected because the subject is smiling. Anyway, for cropping and scaling the picture, there is free dedicated software that will be much easier to use than Photoshop!

    • profile image

      thayah 7 years ago

      I searched same tutorial but got from your site anyway thank you very much.

    • profile image

      Lusy 7 years ago

      Would you please help me, after have the ruler to measure, the D1 is 6.47 so I use the marquee tool and set the fixed size to 11.76 px but it is way too small.

      Did I do anything wrong? Please help.

    • profile image

      Adam 7 years ago

      Paul. I had same issue with D1. Easist thing for me was to crop image from head crown to chin and resize image to 2" vertical, make sure you maintain a high enough resolution though, default monitor (72dpi) will pixilate quite harshly. Resample bicubic (sharper) should also maintain pic quality.

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      Adam 7 years ago

      Gimp is a free and powerfull alternative to Photoshop. Link included.

    • profile image

      Adam 7 years ago

      Simple to do, well explained. Thanks, man!

    • profile image

      Amie Warren 7 years ago

      Great if you have Photoshop, or as someone else suggested, Word. Even an old version of Photshop Elements is about $50. Might be cheaper for only one or two people, if you aren't going to use the program that much, to use one of the free programs or just pay the $8 apiece at Walgreen's.

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      callum 7 years ago

      In response to someone above, I printed my own passport photo last year and gave it to the US embassy for a visa - they accepted it without question.

      As long as you make sure you follow the criteria (i.e. background, pose and size of photo), and have a half decent camera and printer (though my printer was a pretty cheap non-photo model!), these are pretty much indistinguishable to the machines.

      After all, the machine is just a camera and a printer at the end of the day.

    • profile image

      ksb 7 years ago

      open the jpeg / tiff / bitmap immage with paint, then ctrl+w then reduce the size of the photograph to a smaller size say 33 -tab- 33 then -ok- then crop the required size of the photo with the selection tool left in paint then copy the selected part to another untitled paint then past and cut and again paste to ms word and now adjust the size of the photo then page setup-- set the page to a5 or so and the margins left .2 right.2 top .2 and bottom .6 then paste again the copied resized mage ----- as much copy you need, now send this word document to your inkjet printer>>>> isnot it easy try yourself.....

    • profile image

      lemon 7 years ago

      great tips, thanks :)

      btw, what type of paper should be use to print passport photos?

    • profile image

      Anj 7 years ago

      I love this - I tried to do it before and the US passport service called to say they can not use this - the reason they stated was it had a low resolution. I subsequently took another photo with the highest resolution possible and printed it out and it worked fine. So, follow this tutorial with a very high resolution, it should go through. CVS, Walgeens and all those places are RIP OFFS for charging $8 - 10 for this.

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      Vern 7 years ago

      In reply to Chris, I can say that this technique definitely does work. I received my new US passport about two weeks ago (May, 2010). My 11 yr old son took the photo with our Cannon digital camera and I printed it out on an Epson color ink jet printer. I also reviewed the guidelines on the State Department website before I sent in my passport renewal application and they're not that stringent; a 2x2 photo with a plain, light colored background, where your face is clearly visible and from your chin to the top of your head should be between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches or something like that. I would recommend this technique to anyone who needs passport photos.

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      sarav 7 years ago

      In the final step, after pasting into the canvas, go to file->Automate->Picturepackage->(20) 2x2 in 8x10. Then you're all set.

    • mywebdesignguide profile image

      mywebdesignguide 7 years ago from Cairo

      remarkable idea, it's always been a problem!!!

    • profile image

      Paul 7 years ago

      Hey! Can you Use CS3 because when i try to follow your steps i got a problem cause i cant find the "D1" ? ? ?

      please can you help me please?

    • profile image

      Vern  7 years ago

      Thanks for the great and useful information. My 11 year old son took my passport photos with our Cannon digital camera on a tripod. They turned out great and cost me nothing but a few minutes and a sheet of photo paper.

    • profile image

      Chris 7 years ago

      This does not work for current US DEPT OF STATE STANDARDS. SPEND 8 bucks at WALGREENS or CVS and save the headache of having your passport returned.

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      shanks 7 years ago

      I don't have photoshop. I found another simpler way to do it. Opened the photo on picasa and cropped it 2x 2. Copied it and pasted in a word document. Adjusted the margins of the page to 4 x 6". Copied the photo and pasted it 5 times and I had a 4 x 6 " photo. Copied all that to power point slide. Now I could save it as a JPeg image. Sent it to walgreens for a 4 x 6" print (19c.)and promptly got a call saying that they will not print it as this contained passport photographs.

      Bottom line: Need to crop it to 2 x 2". Paste it into powerpoint slide. make a 4x 6" slide and save it as a Jpeg image.

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      krish 7 years ago

      good, it is very usefull, thank you

    • profile image

      deepu 8 years ago

      it is not as that i want sorry

    • gr8info profile image

      gr8info 8 years ago

      This is some good advice. I hate having to pay so much for photos in the shops and the booths and they make me look horrible lol :)

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      Andree 8 years ago

      Just what we needed! Thanks.

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      Volodya 8 years ago

      Thanks for the tutorial, Seanraj. I have a quick question. You are suggesting: Calculate faceDist = D1 divided by 1.1. What is "1.1"?

    • profile image

      Amir 8 years ago

      thanks a lot for tips.It was very useful.

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      Ahmed 8 years ago

      if you type passport software on Google you will find easier programs that take all the work out of it. Photo shop is not recommended for beginners and would advice trying more simple programs in order for you to achieve the results needed for passports.

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      SANDY 8 years ago


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      AJITH 8 years ago

      its good........................

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      sami 8 years ago

      hey hub need ur help wid something wid resolutions... can u plz add me on msn

    • chukwu profile image

      chukwu 8 years ago

      i like and cherish your advice, thanks

    • profile image

      Ben 8 years ago

      Very helpful!!

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      amjad146 8 years ago

      i have done almost all step apart from last step when i paste the last selection i cant see any picture there. anybody can help to make it more easy

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      ARodzz 8 years ago

      Thanks a lot this was very helpful... considering im saving a significant amount of money by using your method..

      Thanks once again

    • profile image

      slim 8 years ago

      good job!

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 8 years ago

      There are very specific requirements on a passport photo such as how large the head should be in the photo. Make sure you know these rules before you start so you do not waste your time. I worked in a photo lab for years and we did these photos so that is how I know.

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      canon cameras 8 years ago

      Great tips, well done, I've bookmarked your hub for later..thanks

    • creativeMind profile image

      creativeMind 8 years ago from Cochin

      hey, good hub dude...use of screenshot makes this very easy to understand.. keep writing

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Thank you -- this hub is the answer to the problem I've been having (trying to size the photo properly for the passport). You have explained it so well, I will be able to follow the directions with no problem. Thank you!

    • overnight profile image

      overnight 8 years ago from India

      Thank you very much, applying this we do not need any professional photographer to cut our images.

      But, there is a problem a person needs to have basic knowledge of Photo shop for using this. He really needs to have some experience in handling photoshop.

      If person doesn't know how to handle it, he will definitely go to the professional photographer.


    • livelovecoffee profile image

      livelovecoffee 9 years ago from Georgia

      Great Hub! I have actually tried doing this before.

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      sjones 9 years ago

      Great hub - especially considering it's your first one. I'll have to check out the others you've created!

      I've recently started a blog at - please check it out if you get a chance - would be great to get your feedback.

    • usauthor profile image

      usauthor 9 years ago from USA

      Beauty's name is Shreya and is a popular indian actress. Check out

      for more details.

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      Gianluca  9 years ago

      Who's the girl?

    • profile image

      Russ52 9 years ago

      Great job 4 the 1st time.

      I as "Urdezie" did, have bookmarked it as well 4 future Ref.

      Good luck with Hub Pages (;-)

    • Urdezire profile image

      Urdezire 9 years ago

      cool tips ..I bookmarked this hub for future..

    • profile image

      angelica schmidt 9 years ago

      hi seanraj

    • seanraj profile image

      seanraj 9 years ago from United States of America


      Thanks for visiting and for your encouraging comments.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 9 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Nice Hub! All the Best with HubPages!

    • seanraj profile image

      seanraj 9 years ago from United States of America

      This is my first hub. I know it is long, but wanted to share the idea of making youw own passport size photos. I have been successful at creating my own passport photos using this technique and have saved a lot of money.

      Post your comments and I wonder why the hubscore is so low.