Who knew you can't get passport photos in Clinton, Ar? The passport office in Clinton doesn't do photos. I was talking to a friend early last week who was upset that they had to go all the way to Heber Springs (or Conway), to get passport photos. Of course, being the nice guy that I am, I made the photos at the studio. I decided to make it official, and added Passport Photos and ID Photos to the web site and Facebook page. So now you can get Passport Photos in Van Buren County, right here in Fairfield Bay, Arkansas! It only takes a few minutes.
Sure enough, I've already shot passport photos for three clients. It's not a big profit margin item. I only charge $20.00 for two 2″ x 2″ professional photos, edited to the US Government's exacting specifications. I realized the only way to make this work would be to become incredibly efficient.
The first thing I did was set up the studio in the optimum layout for this style of photo. You can not have any shadows on the background, so I set up my umbrellas in a bounce setup, with one on each side of the client, a little out in front. I also set up a reflector on a boom arm that bounces light up under the chin and into the eye sockets just a little.
I staged the camera tripod just behind the reflector, leaving the subject about 6′ away. Using the Tamron 2.8 SP 24-70, this works out perfectly, with no lens distortion of any kind. I'm shooting on a white seamless paper backdrop from Savage. It's 107″ wide and goes floor to ceiling, so it's trivial to center the client and get everything perfect in camera.
I use Paul C. Buff Einstein strobes, and the Cyber Commander remote system. I simply match the white balance in camera with the light output, and the photo is 99% finished, before I even import the photos into Lightroom.
I do some very basic tweaks in Lightroom, including cropping to 1:1, then export them at 600×600. I open them in Photoshop and Place them into my Passport template. This template has guides on separate layers that define the distances the US Government requires. I turn off the guide layers, then Save for Web at 2″ x 2″, and synch Lightroom.
I have a Print template created in Lightroom that contains the correct printer settings, etc, so it's just a matter of dragging the photos into place, and clicking Print. I use my little Epson PictureMate that sits on the desk to print, then cut them by hand with a very cool little table top Rotary paper trimmer.
It takes far more time to type this out than it does to deliver the passport photos to my clients! All in, from walking into the studio to walking out, I'd say the average session takes 10 minutes.
I'm planning on setting up a specific day to do Passport Photos, so I can have the studio staged and ready. Re-staging the lights, the backdrop, and the reflector takes the longest amount of time. For now, I'm going to go with Thursday afternoons. Anyone can just walk in and get their photos in a few minutes.
Oh – almost forgot! I can do any specification of Passport or ID photo you need, as long as you can bring me the specific requirements – it just might take a little bit longer 🙂