Smile! Passports cost $85 -- passport photos can be made for less than a buck


As of June 1, Border Control requires all U.S. citizens to have a passport if they're crossing an international border. If you're a first-time applicant, that means $85 to $100 in fees, and that's if you don't need it in a hurry. But there's another expense beyond that: You'll also need to have some mug shots of yourself for your new passport.

The passport office in my city will be happy to take your photo for the application, but it will charge you $15 for the convenience. Some shops in the surrounding neighborhood will also do the deed for patrons who balk at that price, but they still charge $10.

You don't even have to pay a full dollar. Just do them yourself. You may not need many passport photos in your lifetime, but let's face it, taking one isn't rocket science, so you shouldn't have to pay so much for them. provides easy-to-follow instructions for making your own photos. You only need a digital camera. The basics are: