photo-i DVD
a guide to digital


Get a new ID!

Let's be honest and admit that the worst photograph we have of ourselves is shut away in one of our most important documents - a passport. Most of us have our ID pictures taken in a photo booth with fairly naff results. With the help of a digital camera and a photo quality inkjet printer you can produce a picture that will last for the next ten years.

One of the major advantages of shooting with a digital camera is that you can see the result immediately - no more pictures ruined due to blinking - just select the best picture from the session and make as many copies as you need.

The set up.

Photograph your subject against a white background looking full face into the camera. Avoid using the built in flash, it will almost certainly give you a nasty shadow and/or red eye. Try to use natural daylight, assisted with white reflectors and a good tripod. Use the camera's maximum resolution (most digital cameras give you far more quality than you actually need) and shoot lots of pictures, especially if photographing a child.

Take note of the image size for UK passports, other countries will require different sizes.

With your picture downloaded onto your computer, let's set about cropping and re-sizing. The required size for a UK passport is exactly W 35mm x H 45mm. Select the crop tool and enter the correct sizes on the Options Bar and enter a resolution of 300 pixels/inch. Place the crop tool on the image and drag out a cropping marquee to mark the required area. Your crop stays proportional, no matter how large or small your marquee is, the image will always be 35 x 45 mm at 300 dpi. Photoshop will resample the image via the crop tool, so you don't need to go to Image > Image size to make any alterations. Double click or press Enter to make the crop.

Nearly done.

Create a new document for your four passport pictures.

Create a new image (Ctrl + N) and enter the following values;  Width 4in x Height 5in, at a resolution of 300 dpi. Click OK. To help you cut the pictures out replace the White background with a neutral grey tone, Select Edit > Fill and select 50% Grey. Click OK. Make the portrait document active and select the Move Tool (press V), click on the portrait and drag it over to the new document. On the new document hold down the Alt. Key and drag the portrait again, you have now created a duplicate of it, create two more duplicates. You should have four portraits on the document, arrange these for easy trimming. You only require two pictures for a passport application, the spare two will come in handy for .......?

Using the Move Tool click drag the portrait onto the new document.
Hold down the Alt Key whilst dragging in the new document to duplicate the picture,

Print your picture using a photo-realistic printer with premium quality gloss paper (no heavier than 180 gsm) - 6 x 4  Photo Paper is ideal. Most printers today (Canon & Epson) guarantee the image for at least 10 years but will last well past the passport's expiry date. Finally, use a sharp scalpel and steel ruler to trim your pictures.

Remember, don't alter the image in any way, if there is a scar on your chin or lines under your eyes then they must be in the picture too. If you really do look awful in your picture (and don't we all) then consider having holidays at home.

Important Notice: for UK passports only

The rules for submitting photographs are very strict.  Full details can be found in Information Leaflet IL/02/03 and read Note 12 - Photographs. This leaflet is available from your Post Office or Passport Office.

Photographs & text © Vincent Oliver 2002

January 5, 2008

© Vincent Oliver 2008
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