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 Sinclairification by Grant Sinclair

Personal Safety: Why You Should Carry Passport-sized Photographs of Yourself and Your Travel Partners and What You Should Do With Them

04 Jul 2008

NOTE: This information is mainly from this article, but I felt it was important enough to be in an article by itself.

Before I go on a trip with someone, either domestic or overseas, I make sure we trade passport-size photos.  One the back of each person’s photo is the following information:

- The person’s Name as it appears on their passport.
- Their Age
- Their Height in both US AND Metric
- Their Weight in both US AND Metric
- Their Hair Color
- Their Eye Color
- Their Nationality
- Their Blood Type
- Their Allergies

I also carry one of myself with all this information.

If you are traveling to a country that speaks a language other than English, you may want to write the above information in that country’s language.

This is mainly a safety precaution.  If there is an emergency and one of my travel partners (or I) can not communicate, it is essential that medical personnel get all the information they need to help the injured person as quickly as possible.  To have all important medical information in one place may save time and someone’s life, especially if that person has allergies to specific types of medication.

This is also helpful if someone goes missing, as you will have a recent photograph to bring to the police if necessary.

So before you head off to your next adventure, be it traveling the world or a weekend camping trip, print up a couple passport-sized photos, fill out ALL the information, make copies for your traveling partners and go out and have some fun. 

To make things easier, I have re-posted the section of the article “Passport-sizes Photographs” regarding how to make said photographs:

Because of the many rules regarding making your own photos to submit when you apply for a new passport (here are the rules for US citizens:, we recommend you go to a place that makes passport photos professionally.  Your local drug store should print up a pair of pictures for under $10.

However, when it comes to the photos mentioned in this article, there’s a quick, simple, inexpensive way to make your own.  Here’ what you need for this project:

- A digital camera, 4MP or better.
- A friend.
- A color printer.
- Good quality matte photo paper.
- Some decent clothes.

1) Get your digital camera.  Make sure it’s at least 4MP and set it to the highest resolution.

2) Get a friend.  They’re going to take the picture for you.

3) Wear some decent clothes.  For guys, a collared button down shirt would be fine.  No ties, it looks too formal.  No T-shirts or you’ll look like a bum, Ladies, also dress appropriately.

4) Make sure you look nice.  You’re shaved; wearing nice make up, your hair is combed, etcetera.  Remember, you may or may not be granted admission to a place based solely on how you look in this picture.  So stand up straight and look decent.

5) Remove any hats, sunglasses, scarves, boas, and etcetera.  Don’t take the photo with your mouth open.

6) Stand inside.  You’ll have more control over the light.  Stand in front of a wall that is either light blue or plain white.  Make sure there are no posters, artwork, patterns, curtains, blinds or other distractions in the background.

7) Let your friend take the picture.  Measure it out so it looks close to what a normal passport photo would.  It’s better to take it too big; you can always crop it down to what you need.

8) Some people say to smile, others say not to.  I say, just look straight at the camera.  Don’t make any funny faces, but don’t look angry, upset or threatening, either.

9) Have your friend play around with the light.  Try to avoid using a flash, if possible, as it will leave shadows on the wall behind you.  Avoid having shadows in the picture.

10) Once your friend has taken the pictures, pick the image you like best and load it onto your computer.  Try not to fuss too much with it in your photo-editing software (i.e. lighten, darken, etcetera), but make sure you look presentable.  You’ll want the image to be from the top of your head to your shoulders.

11) Once you have decided on the final image, change the size to 2” X 2”.

12) Now that the image is the right size and you’re happy with what you see, use a program (like Microsoft Publisher; you may also be able to do it with Word.) to put the same image next to itself over and over again, until it fills the page.  With 2” X 2” photos on an 8 ½” by 11” piece of paper, you should be able to fit four images across and five down, or twenty photos total.

13) Load the photo paper in the printer.

14) Print the images on a color printer on “Best Quality.”  Print more than you think you’ll need.  Be mindful of where you’re going and how long you’ll be away.

15) Now that you have a file with twenty passport sized photos, E-mail it to yourself.  If you run out of photos while you travel, you can download the file from your E-mail and print out more.

© 2008

Links:  US to Metric conversion

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