No matter how camera-shy you are, if you want a US passport, you’ll need to smile and say cheese first. There are several different places you can go to get passport photos made, or you can do it yourself. Here are some of the different options available, as well as the pros and cons of each:
Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite-Aid and most other drug store chains offer passport photo services. The cost is usually around $7-8 for either one or two photos. Retakes are extra.
The Pro’s: Ideally, the photographer has been trained and is aware of all the special requirements for passport photos. Plus, drug stores provide instant gratification, since your photos are ready in just a few minutes.
The Cons: This option is more expensive than doing it yourself, retakes cost extra and the quality of the pictures can vary. Babies and toddlers can require multiple retakes to get pictures that comply with US Passport Agency regulations, and the charges can add up.
Many post offices across the country are also US Passport Acceptance facilities and some of them offer passport photo services. You can look up the location nearest you here.
Pros: Post office employees should be familiar with acceptance requirements for passport photos. Also, you can get your photo taken and turn in your application at the same time, so you’ll save a trip.
Cons: At $15.00, the fee is more expensive than going to a drugstore. Also, you may be required to make an appointment.
Some professional photography studios offer passport photo services.
Pros: You’ll probably get better, more attractive passport photos, since the person on the other end of the camera is a professional, full-time photographer. For infants and small children, professional photographers might get better results because they have extensive practice coaxing good pictures out of little kids. Some photographers offer “Executive passport photo services,” which means they’ll come to you for a hefty fee.
Cons: Fees vary by studio, but expect it to cost a good deal more than the post office.
Do-It-Yourself Passport Photos
You can take passport photos yourself with a digital camera and a white background. Then, you can use a free service like ePassportPhoto.com to print the pictures so that they are the right size.
Pros: You can do as many re-takes as you like. Plus, it’s cheaper than going to a drugstore. This is an especially good option for infants and children because you can take as many pictures as you want for free, instead of crossing your fingers, hoping and praying that your little darling doesn’t decide to yawn, cry, or start sucking his thumb in the middle of a drugstore photo shoot.
Cons: Even if you read the US Passport Agency’s guidelines for passport photos carefully, you could still end up making a mistake that an experienced passport photographer would have avoided. If your passport photo isn’t up to par, your application will be denied and you’ll have to resubmit. EPassportPhoto.com does offer a premium option for $7.00 that includes human validation, though.
Also, you have to have a high-quality printer to print acceptable photos. If you don’t have a photo-quality printer, ePassportPhoto.com’s premium service lets you pick your photos up at a nearby drugstore.
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