You can take ID Photos like a Pro!


It is extremely easy to take Photo ID pictures with today’s high quality digital cameras, smartphones, or webcams.
Any basic digital camera will do the job adequately—you definitely don’t need a top of the range model.
You can even use your smartphone or tablet!

Let’s start with some quick tips:

① Take Numerous Photos

This may seem ovious, but it is often not implemented. Remember, the ID pictures will be worn in plain view every day—it’s worth taking a little extra time to obtain the best possible picture that you can.

You should take several shots, since it won’t cost any more to get the best picture. With digital cameras, you can often show the person a preview of the photo on the camera’s LCD screen. Or, if you use a webcam, you can show the person the picture immediately on the computer screen.

This way, the subject can approve his or her final picture.

② Leave extra room—crop the photo later

You may be tempted to try and have the photo look on camera exactly how you would like it to look on the card. Avoid this temptation and leave extra room around the subject.

Modern cameras take photos at a much higher resolution than needed for an ID badge. Making the “usable” part of the photo slightly smaller will not affect print quality. It will, however, give you some extra room if ever you decide to change your card design.

Additionally, many services (InstantCard included) provide you with a crop tool set to appropriate dimensions. If you’re ID photo is already cropped too much, it might not work well with these dimensions.

Crop ID photos video

③ How to take ID Card Photos with Your Phone

Phones are plenty capable of taking professional-looking ID photos. When using your phone to take ID photos make sure to have plenty of light.

Here are some more tips:

  • Your camera probably has several quality settings. You may choose the ‘medium’ or ‘lower’ quality option, as photo ID shots are printed so small that it usually is not necessary to use the highest resolution. However, the higher the resolution, the better the outcome is likely to be!
  • The resulting picture should have a minimum 300 dpi, or a minimum of roughly 400 pixels x 400 pixels. A common resolution which is available on most cameras is 640 x 480 pixels.
  • Pose your subjects to take either a full face view (head-on) or a ¾ view (shoulders slightly turned left or right, but with the head facing the camera)
  • Lighting is very important; lighting should be uniform and bright, without casting shadows. Natural light is best, but if you are using artificial lighting be sure it comes from several sources. Fill-in flash is often very effective, even in good lighting conditions, to eliminate shadows.
  • If you do not have natural lighting available, halogen or incandescent light works best. Fluorescent lighting should be avoided.
  • You may be able to take very flattering pictures outdoors. However, you should not take pictures in very bright sunlight, and must avoid strong shadows.
  • Backgrounds are best when they are uniform and neutral: white or off-white is the most common. Solid blue or green backgrounds are often used by professionals, as these can be easily masked out. With a uniform background, the InstantCard software can be configured to render the background transparent if desired. Make sure the background fills the full frame of the picture behind the person.
  • If you are taking pictures of many staff members, try to maintain a constant distance from all subjects. A good distance from camera to subject is approximately 6 feet.
  • The camera should be placed at roughly the same height as the face of the subject. However, if the subject wears glasses, raising the camera slightly higher will avoid glare/reflection of the flash off the lenses of the glasses.
  • Frame the picture to include the shoulders, and leave some room above the head. The InstantCard system always allows you to crop the photo to the final display size.
  • Cameras generally create a file for each photo with the “.jpg” extension. Rename the .jpg picture to the person’s name and/or employee number, and move the picture into a dedicated photo directory on your computer.

Photo Files:

  • Organization: Keep all the pictures you take in a clearly labelled directory.
  • File Naming: We recommend that you consistently rename the .jpg file names to something like “john_smith.jpg”, to allow you to easily find the pictures you’re looking for.
  • File Size: You will generally need to re-size your pictures before uploading them to the InstantCard website, since high-resolution multi-megapixel pictures are not necessary for photo ID cards. Files under 1MB in file size are optimal.
  • Resizing Photos: For guidance on how to resize your pictures for your photo ID cards, click here.


We strongly recommend that you take at least two or three pictures, then let your employee choose which photo they prefer. This will definitely create more “buy-in” into your ID card program!