How do you take a photo for an ID card?

How do you take a photo for an ID card?

It’s rare that anyone likes photos of themselves.  When you put a photo onto an ID card that needs to be publicly displayed, most people hate it!  We’ve lost count of how many times people provide nearly identical negative responses: “I look like a deer in the headlights”, or “my hair is a mess”!

Can something be done about it?  Absolutely, yes!  There are a number of little things to think about that can make all the difference to the quality of the photo on the ID card. 

In addition to the obvious personal grooming tips, here are somethings to remember:

  1. Lighting
    • This is without a doubt the most important consideration when it comes to a quality photo on your ID card.
    • If there is too much light coming from a window it may cast shadows on one side of the subject’s face, resulting in an image that is difficult to distinguish.
    • If the light is too bright, then the photo may appear washed out.
    • If there is not enough light in the room you may notice the photos are too dark.
    • Its best to use your own light source in a room that does not have an outside window.
    • If you use a flash only, you may notice a sharp shadow on the backdrop cast by the subject’s head. Illuminating the backdrop will eliminate these kinds of problems.
  1. Facial Expression
    • If someone continuously blinks when the photo is taken, try taking the photo without warning. Alternatively, give the subject a count of 1…2…3, but take the photo on “2”.
    • Remove bright light sources that may cause the subject to squint into the camera.
    • Make sure that hats, scarfs or loose hair do not obscure the face.
    • Depending on your organization’s policy, you may ask the subject not to smile at all, but to provide a comfortable “resting face”. If smiles are permitted, don’t ask for all teeth.  You want this photo to be as close to real life as possible.  Government Passport Departments offer good advice on this.
  1. Background
    • Always use a common backdrop in order to keep the focus on the subject.
    • A common background enables the camera to properly compensate for lighting, and produce accurate skin tone.
    • Use a light source on the backdrop to avoid head shadows.
    • Coloured backdrops can be used to enhance the colour coding and design that your corporate security department wants to use.
  1. Camera Quality
    • Although the photo on the ID card is only in inch or so in size, a poor quality webcam can make the image darker and more pixelated than it needs to be.
    • Use a digital SLR camera for best results.
    • If you use a webcam, make sure the webcam is HD, and can capture images in 1080p.
    • Selfies are no good. The subject is usually captured in an unnatural position.
  1. Printer Quality
    • You can capture the best photo in the world, only to have it ruined by a poorly configured printed.
    • Make sure the correct ribbon settings are being used.
    • If you see a 3-D effect on your colours, your printer is too old. The rubber rollers are so brittle they are having difficulty moving the card into the correct position to accept the colours.
    • If you see bits of dirt and debris on your printed cards, your printer needs cleaned. Ideally, you should be cleaning your printer once a week, or even once a day during heavy printing 
    • There are two types of printing technology: direct to card, and re-transfer. The re-transfer printers yield higher quality.
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