'Hacking' Passport-size photo printing..
We always need Passport-size photographs of of ourselves. Applications, official paperwork, IDs, etc. What’s more annoying is that every place has a different requirements of the kind of photo they need; Matte vs Glossy; 25×35 vs 35×45 vs 45×45; White background x Blue Background… And they keep changing it!
The final blow comes when you have to get new instant Passport-size photos made at the local photo shop. The charges are very high. We are looking at $6 for 4 or $8 for 8 Passport-size photos (depending on size). And most of the time, I end up looking really mad in those photos. I guess that’s because I ask for the price first.
But if you think about it, what’s so special about a photo that you need to pay so much for. The main parts to getting the Passport-size photo right are;
2. Background / Facial expression
3. Photo size/ Aspect Ratio
Most photo shops use standard digital cameras. And everyone has one, so that’s nothing special. So why can’t we just use our own camera’s to take photos? If you have an older digital photo which you want, you can just crop your face out, or even scan an older Passport-size photographs (just make sure that it’s not too old, some places need recent photographs). Also ensure that you get the aspect ratio right.
One can very easily ensure that the background is plain, just take the photo in front of a plain wall. As for the color, there is always Photoshop (or GIMP if you rock the OSS world). The facial expression will automatically be better when you realize how much you have to pay for Passport-size photos after this ‘hack’.
Photo size and/or aspect ratio is not as hard as you expect it to be. Every image editor program (read Photoshop) is able to convert the pixels to real world units like inches and mm depending on the dpi settings of the canvas. So all you need to create a canvas of the size of the photo you want (for eg 35mmx45mm at 300dpi) and use that to edit your photo.
Now comes the interesting part. How do you get your photo printed. Our printers at home are not able to do justice to the colors and photo-paper. So we have to use commercial printing services. Now, if you bring your own Passport-size image to a Photo-printer at your local photo shop and get it printed, they will still charge you as in you took an “instant Passport-size photo”. So that defeats the purpose of making it cheaper.
Enter ePassportPhoto. This site totally rocks!! Not only does it help you with the aspect ratio and size of your photo, but it also generates a 4R (remember old non-digital camera photo size) size image of 8 of your Passport-size photos beside each other. Now, you have 7 pictures with the correct size on an image of the size of 4R. You can take this image and print it as a normal 4R photo and cut it up manually. And how much does a 4R print cost? 35 cents ! So you get 7 photos at 35c..
Now to take this hack to the next level. ePassportPhoto adds an ad to the website at the position of the 8th photo. This can be easily worked around by taking the photo into photoshop and copying one of the other 7 photos onto the ad.
Also, in Singapore, you will find that some Photo shops don’t allow you to print such images. So the out of this is to find a automated print center. There, you can send print jobs, without anyone looking as what you are trying to print, and hence they won’t stop your from printing. Harvey Norman offers this service in Singapore. Look for their “Photo Centers“. Also, when you use it, make sure you select the “Print Photo/Album” and not the “Print Passport-size Photos” option. You will get options for Matte and Glossy photo options.. You can chose the type of finish you need.
Finally, you will need to cut up the 4R photo sheet into the 7/8 Passport-size photos. I suggest you use proper paper cutters for that instead of pen-knives. It helps to get the sides straight.
So using all these hacks together, you will get 8 Passport-size photo at 35c. It takes a little work from your side, but is totally economical. So do try it out, and let us know if you are able to improve this hack.
This ‘hack’ was told to me by a friend of mine, who doesn’t have a blog, so I can’t link to him. Thanks Vinay