Every so often, I find myself having to submit passport photos of myself or my kids for various applications. And each time, I find myself needing to go down to the neighbourhood print shops to get those photos taken/printed.
I remember back in the good old days, the process can take days and require professional equipment and a competent photographer. Of course, you have to pay an appropriately high price for the job. Something like S$6 for 4-6 photos.
However, with the advancement of modern digital photography and printers, all it takes is half and an hour (or less) and a common digital camera hooked up to a common photo printer. What's more, the entire process can be operated by a single five year old (ok, maybe 10). You will think that given the simplicity of the process and the cheap equipment required, the prices must have come down accordingly. Well, unless you have been living on another planet, the prices have been creeping up slowly.
To date, I have largely ignored the fact that I'm being over-charged for four pieces of photos that are barely larger than the size of a stamp. However, the last straw came when just two weeks ago, I found myself at a neighbourhood print shop needing to get my passport photos taken.
My usual practice is to just tell the shop assistant at my regular print shop how many pieces of photos I require, get through the process and pay the price shown on the till. This time however, I decided to try out a different print shop hoping that I can perhaps get it done cheaper. And boy was I wrong... this particular shop at IMM quoted me not the usual market rate of $6 for 4 pieces, she quoted me a whooping $12 for 4 instead! In fact, she even told me that its "cheaper" to get 8 pieces since it cost "only" $18! My eyes popped and I let out a loud "WTF?!" and did an about turn immediately. And that was when I decided that perhaps its time I make better use of my investments in my Sonly Alpha DSLR and my recently acquired Canon MFC printer.
The photo taking process is painless enough; just find a bright sunny day, stand indoors in front of a white wall somewhere near the windows where the light is coming through (make sure the sun is not shining on you though), and get someone to snap a few shots of you.
Don't worry so much about your position in the photo, just make sure your head and shoulders are covering at least half of the image. Oh, and don't use flash as that will cast shadows off your facial features (specifically your nose!) and reflections off your glasses (if you are wearing them).
Now here comes the difficult part, adjusting the image such that it complies with the specifications (size of image, position of your eyes, chin and shoulders, etc). Luckily, there is an online service called ePassportPhoto.com that will not only guide you along, but also let you finish the task in under five minutes with just a few mouse clicks!
All you need to do is to take the photo, upload it to the website, follow the few simple instructions to adjust the image and viola, a nicely adjusted image (comprising of 7 passport sized photos and a small text advertisement) that you can easily print on a 4"x6" photo paper and then cut it into the individual pieces.
So what is the damage of this DIY project? All of 30 minutes and $0.35 cents for a 4R sized photo paper! And you get SEVEN (eight if you cut and paste the advertisement away) passport sized photos to boot!
So goodbye to the ridiculously overpriced print shop down at IMM, and thanks for motivating me to find a cheaper way to get this done!