Photos for US Passports are like driver’s license photos-they often look like mug shots. Of course, the whole purpose of a passport photo is to prove to government officials that this important document really does belong to you. Passport photos aren’t meant to be glamour shots. However, you do need a clear, in-focus photo that meets government guidelines if you’d like your passport application to be accepted the first time.

There are many places that take photos for US passports. However, as this excellent post on  Money, Matter and More Musings notes,  drugstore photos for US passports are somewhat expensive. Also, the quality can be less than optimal. Most people simply deal with the disappointment and move on, grumbling to themselves as they leave the store. The writer of the post I linked to above took matters into his own hands, using a free online digital photo editing service and a digital camera. He was able to save money on passport photos and get photos he was satisfied with.

Before you take your own passport photos, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the government’s requirements.  RushMyPassport.com has a helpful information information page on photo requirements for US passports. To get started, you’ll need white background cloth, a digital camera, and some type of photo editing software so you can crop the picture to the right size. You’ll also need a high quality digital printer-the government won’t accept grainy or pixellated passport photos for US passports. If you don’t have a printer, look for a digital photo printing service, either online or at a store with a photography department.

If you’re short on time and worried that your passport photo isn’t good enough, going through an expediting service like RushMyPassport.com will ease your mind. Not only can expediting companies get you your passport fast, you’ll also have an expert to examine your photo and make sure it’s acceptable before you turn in your application.