Tuesday, January 18, 2005

How to make passport size pictures at home

If you have a digital camera at your disposal you can make your own passport pictures. Recently, using technical help from my Sabahat Ashraf I made excellent quality passport size photos at home. Later, I found out people have put information on the web on how to make your own passport pictures. But all these people used Photoshop--I didn’t have access to that software. This is how you can make passport size photos at home, using a digital camera and commonly used software:

1. Use a plain background and take a picture of the subject so that there is some room on top of the head, very little room on both sides of the shoulders, and the picture covers the subject all the way down to the waistline. These proportions are important because in your 2X2 picture you want the head measurement to be 1” to 1-3/16”--these are official guidelines. If you are using Photoshop you can measure the head in the picture and then accordingly decide how much area of the photo to cover to yield those head dimensions. But the free editing software I used didn’t have the capability to take measurements and hence I had to make sure I start with the right dimensions, when I take the picture.
2. Open the picture file (jpeg) in a photo editing software and make a square box around the subject’s head and shoulders. [I used Irfanview, a freeware you can easily download from the web--google it.] Now crop this selection and save it under a different name. The square picture ensures that in formatting the picture to 2 inch X 2 inch you won’t distort the image. Now open a blank MS Word document and use the Insert command to insert the new picture file. Depending on your camera’s resolution, the imported square picture in Word will come out to be bigger than 2 X 2. Select the picture by clicking on it, and then right click to see the options. Use the picture format option (use ‘size’ tab in it) to resize the picture to 2 in X 2in. There you have it! You can add a border to this picture (it is one of the options when you right click). Add a thin boxed border (say 1 pt) to create a white thin box around the picture. Now copy and paste this 2X2 many times. The thin border you made will come handy when you are ready to cut the pictures from the printed letter size page. With many 2X2 pictures present on your 8.5X11 sheet you are now ready for printing. Print on a heavy paper using a high quality printer. I didn’t have a high quality printer at home so I took my Word document to Kinko’s and had the page printed there. I had to physically take the Word file in a memory stick because the file was too big to be sent via email. At Kinko’s it costs $1.49 to print color on a heavy letter sized paper. You get 12 passport pictures for $1.49 + tax. What a bargain!