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Tips for Capturing the Perfect ID Photo
Tips for Capturing the Perfect ID Photo

Bust open any wallet and you’ll likely find an ID card that’s subtly hidden in the back. Yes, we all have that ID card that we just want to burn no thanks to a badly taken photo. But with today’s high-resolution digital cameras, taking a good ID photo shouldn’t really be as hard as capturing a photo of a unicorn.

Here are some tips from our resident photo experts:


  • In any photograph, lighting is key. Make sure that your light source is facing your subject directly. Use natural light, if possible, as this is the best light source for photographs.
  • If you need to use artificial light sources and don’t have access to studio-quality lights, use incandescent light and avoid fluorescent light sources as much as possible. Incandescent light produces a warmer tone that is closer to our skin's natural color. Fluorescent light, on the other hand, desaturates facial features giving photographs a dull appearance.
  • Make sure to illuminate the subject’s face uniformly to avoid casting shadows around the face or on the background.


  • Because we are taking an ID photo, we need the focus of the photograph to be the face of the subject. As such, avoid using backgrounds that have elaborate patterns or designs in it. A plain white background is highly recommended for ID pictures.
  • Be sure to remove any plants, ornaments, or furniture that may be visible in the background.
  • Position the person being photographed 3 feet or 1 meter from the background to avoid casting any shadows on the background.

Camera Position

  • Place your camera at the eye level of the person being photographed.
  • Set your camera orientation to portrait mode.
  • Your camera must be approximately 6 feet away from your subject. Ensure that all photographs are taken from the same distance and zoom level.
  • Frame your camera to include both shoulders of the subject and remember to leave some room above your subject’s head.


  • Position your subject with the head and body facing the camera directly.
  • Take multiple shots of the subject and allow him/her to select the best possible picture.
  • Remind the subject to avoid:

    1. Tilting his/her head
    2. Slouching
    3. Covering any part of his face with his hands
    4. Wearing any sunglasses, tinted lenses, hats, caps, hoods, helmets, or other head coverings (except for religious reasons)

File Management

  • All modern digital cameras can take photos at multiple image resolutions. Be sure to take photos at a minimum of 300 dpi or 640x480 pixels.
  • Save files in .jpg format
  • Keep all pictures in a properly labeled folder or directory with each file named appropriately. Suggested naming include:

    1. First name + Last name (example: John-Anderson.jpg)
    2. Employee Number (example: 10042567.jpg)

Are you thinking of starting your own Photo ID Card System? We can help! Call our ID experts at 1-800-667-1772 for assistance. You can also reach us via e-mail.

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