I was asked this question today by a friend, and it hit home for me, having only applied for my latest passport several months ago after my wedding. In this day of inexpensive digital cameras and smart phone selfies, the process for obtaining a good quality photo that also meets the government specifications for passports isn’t necessarily obvious to the average person.
When I applied for my passport earlier this year, I tried 2 relatively easy options.
1. Your local CVS or Walgreens
There is a Walgreens around the corner from my home, which made for an easy and convenient option. Essentially, a Walgreens associate pulls down a white screen; you stand in front of it, and they take your photo with a regular digital camera. Then they crop the photo to passport specifications and print you 2 copies for $11.99. You can also bring your own photo and crop it on their photo software for printing. The price is the same either way.
2. An online service
There are a variety of online services, but I had good results using www.epassportphoto.com. If you are looking for free, this is a great option. You upload a photo of your choosing (even a smart phone selfie if you have one that is appropriate!), and they guide you through cropping and prepping your photo for your passport. Then you can print copies for yourself at home.
I opted to try their full service option, which will cost you a small fee – $1.50/photo. With the full service option, you still upload your own photo, but they take care of cropping it and minor touch ups to bring it to specification. Depending on how fast you need prints, you can choose to either pick up your photos at a local drug store or have them mailed to you.
If you can afford to wait a day or two for your passport photos, I would recommend the full service option through epassportphoto.com. I had Walgreens take my photo and also sent my online photos to the same location for printing. The photos that came from epassportphoto.com, were noticeable better for a lower price. They even brightened the background of my photo to ensure it met the “white” background requirement. However, Walgreens is definitely fast and easy if you need to have a new photo taken or you need the prints within an hour.
This obviously isn’t an extensive list of every option, but I hope it works for most. For more information on passport photos, the US Department of State provides a ton of information on their website.