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A Guide to Taking Great Staff ID Card Photos

ID cards are never quite complete without a photograph – but how do you go about taking great ID Card Photos?

Bearing in mind that the photograph on the ID card is likely to be there a long time. It’s important to get it right. Here’s what you need to consider, to make sure every photo is as professional looking and suitable as possible.

 

If You’re Taking the Photo

Taking ID card photos can prove challenging, especially if you’re not used to taking photos and suddenly have to photograph every member of the team. There are some things you can do, however, to make sure the photos look right.

Check the Camera

Not all digital cameras are created equally! If you’re not used to the camera you’re going to be using, it’s best to take several test shots to ensure you’re familiar with its modes, features, and the quality of the images that it captures. Ultimately this will make sure you take better quality ID card photos, and that you speed up the whole process for everyone involved.

Location Matters

A neutral, professional background is the goal – think off-white or cream in terms of colour. If you’re going to be shooting in several different locations, it might be worth investing in a portable background to keep the shots as consistent as possible. Remember that you’re not taking a photograph for the cover of a magazine, the employee needs to be easily identifiable.

Choosing the Light

Bad lighting can instantly ruin an otherwise good photograph. Try and avoid harsh, white fluorescent lights if possible, as they won’t flatter your subject. It’s much better to choose a slightly warmer light wherever you can, to ensure the subject is more comfortable. It’s also closer to the lighting conditions they’ll normally be seen in, which again aids in easy identification.

Framing and Angles

Try and avoid taking a photograph directly head-on, as it looks somewhat unnatural (cue flashbacks of other-worldly driving licence or passport pictures). The best angle is one that is slightly raised, looking down on the subject to avoid catching too much under the chin. For the majority of ID card photos, it’s best to frame the photo as the head and the tops of the subject’s shoulders.

Communication is Key

As you’re taking the photographs, remember to talk to the person you’re photographing. This will help keep them at ease, which will ultimately make for a better photo. If you want them to change the way they’re holding their face, to smile a little more for example, then make sure you tell them. This will make finding the right photo that much faster for everyone.

Take Another if Needed

If you take a photo and you’re not happy with it, it’s a safe bet the subject won’t be either. Remember that this person will have to walk with this photograph on their ID for the foreseeable future – it’s worth investing another minute in deleting the photo and taking it again. It takes no appreciable extra time, and the results will speak for themselves.

If You’re Having Your Photo Taken

The whole process can be different, and more intimidating, if you’re on the other side of the camera. If you’re going to be having your photo taken, try these tips to get the best results.

Practice

It might sound foolish, but a little time spent posing in the mirror before you go to have your photo taken can work wonders. Try different levels of smiling and see what fits your face the best. If you like the pose, it will make for a better photo. Then, thanks to the power of smartphones, you can try taking some selfies or get someone to photograph you to see how those poses translate.

Relax

It sounds simple, but relaxation is the key to taking a good photograph. If you’re nervous, it’s going to show through in the photo whether you want it to or not. Take a long, deep breath and keep everything in perspective. Remember, this is just a photo ID shoot, it won’t be the end of the world if a hair is out of place. Keep calm and keep your breathing as steady as possible.

Outfit

A flattering outfit is your best friend when it comes to taking great ID card photos. You want to make sure that it’s not going to compete with you. Avoid any loud colours or vibrant patterns. Ultimately remember that this is a professional photograph, so wear something which you would be comfortable wearing to a meeting with a prospective employer. Choose something that fits comfortably.


With these tips in mind, there’s no reason why you can’t take excellent ID card photos! When you have, they’ll be perfect for use with our ID Card Printing service. They also go well with our range of card holders and lanyards!

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Edge-to-Edge vs Over-the-Edge ID Card Printing

Getting the right ID cards printed can be a more confusing undertaking than most people first realise. Everyone would love a solution that’s simple, straight-forward, and universally applicable – unfortunately, no such solution exists.

Breaking down the Process

It’s up to you then to understand the differences between popular forms of ID card printing. This allows you to determine which is right for you, your purposes, and, of course, your budget.

Presuming you’ve already handled the important matters of the layout, card type and design you’re looking for your ID cards to have, it’s now time to consider the print method. That is, are you going to opt for edge-to-edge or over-the-edge printing?

Before you can make that choice, you need to know what each is.

Edge-to-Edge Printing

To put it in its simplest possible terms, edge-to-edge printing is where a slim border is left around the surface of your final printed ID card. This isn’t a deliberated printed design, rather it’s simply an area of the card which has had no printing applied to it.

White is the most common colour for the border because the vast majority of ID cards are white. However, the colour of the card blank will determine the colour of the border. So, if you have a black blank card it’ll be a black border, a red card leaves a red border, and so on.

Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen and handled edge-to-edge printed ID cards countless times. It’s a highly popular and economic method of printing. This method of card printing uses YMCK ribbons.

Over-the-Edge printing

So, edge-to-edge printing means there is a small blank border left around the edge of the card. Over-the-edge printing, it shouldn’t be a surprise, means that there is no visible border left around the ID card’s edges. The whole surface space of the card is taken up with the print design.

This is achieved through the different printing method used. Direct-to-card printers allow the print head to come into contact with the card itself during the printing process – hence the blank border. A retransfer printer, as used in over-the-edge printing works differently.

The design is instead printed on a thin layer of transfer film, before being applied to the surface of the card. This means there are no blank gaps, the design takes up the whole face of the card.

Which one is right for you?

The printing method you choose depends on the results you’re looking to achieve, as they each have benefits and drawbacks.

The main benefit of edge-to-edge printing is that it’s more affordable, and the printing process is generally quicker. This makes it better suited to applications where you’re going to be ordering your ID cards in bulk.

Over-the-edge printing is more expensive and time-consuming, but the final result is of higher quality. This makes it better suited to low volume prints, or situations where the most professional image possible is the desired effect.

There’s no right answer. There’s only the best printing method for your purposes.

Contact ALG ID Cards today to order our ID card printing service (we offer both edge-to-edge and over-the edge) or if you have any questions about card printing.

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YMCK, YMCKO & YMC – Choosing the Right Printer Ribbon

YMCK, YMCKO & YMC

If you’re at all familiar with printing, you’ve probably heard the term ‘CMYK’ and you likely know it stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black), and you can probably have a fair guess at some of the letters in YMCKO and YMCKOK.

YMCKO and YMCKOK ribbons aren’t for standard printers, though. They’re made specifically for ID Card Printers and they have panels of colour, called dye sublimation panels to print what you need on your ID cards. And here’s what all that jumble of letters actually stands for:

YMC

No surprises for guessing this stands for yellow, magenta and cyan. These printer ribbons can create just about any full colour design you want, including black, as long as composite black (made from a mix of the three colours) is good enough for your design.

YMCK

Again, it’s quite straightforward and stands for yellow, magenta, and cyan, but where it differs from standard printing is that the black is actually a black resin panel which is used for clear, precise black text and also has to be used if you need to print barcodes, as composite black won’t work for them.
YMCK, YMCKO & YMC

YMCKO Printer Ribbons

These have the standard colours, the black resin panel and the ‘O’ stands for an extra overlay panel which will coat your printed ID card to help protect your design and make it more durable. Some printer ribbons allow you to add security watermarks using the overlay panel which can help improve the overall security of your cards and organisation.

YMCKOK Printer Ribbons

These ribbons have all of the above and a further black panel so you can print in black on the back of the card.

YMCKO and YMCKOK ribbons can do rather more than the others, but what’s the difference between the two? Why pick one over the other?

Well, you can print vibrant full colour and a clear black, plus a barcode and an overlay on one side of your ID cards with a YMCKO ribbon, so they’re great for cards that are only printed on one side. You can also print colour on both sides of your ID cards with the same ribbon, though you will go through your printer ribbon twice as fast if you do that.

With YMCKOK ribbons you can also print your full colour design, clean black type, a barcode and an overlay on one side of your ID cards, as well as printing a plain black design on the other side, where perhaps the rear of your card doesn’t have to be in colour.

All of the ribbon types are useful in different ways and choosing your ribbon is just a case of deciding what sort of design you want, including whether it’s double-sided or not, and whether you also need to be able to print a barcode on your cards.

Monochrome / Single Colour Ribbons

Monochrome ribbons are available in a range of different colours. However, as the name implies, monochrome ribbons can only print in one colour. You can also purchase special monochrome ribbons such as scratch off ribbons.

Retransfer Film

Retransfer ID Card Printers do not use the traditional YMCK ribbons, instead they use retransfer film with a YMCK film. Check out our Edge-to-Edge vs Over-the-Edge card printer blog post which explains the difference between the difference between Direct to Card Printers and Retransfer Card Printers.

 

We sell a range of different YMC, YMCKO & YMCKOK ID Card Printer Ribbons. Make sure you check out the MA300YMCKO & MA250YMCKOK, our best selling printer ribbons which are designed specifically for Magicard Printers.

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What’s the Difference Between HiCo and LoCo Magstripe Cards?

What’s the Difference Between HiCo and LoCo Magstripe Cards?

If you’re wondering what on earth we’re talking about, take a look at your credit or debit card. That’s a magnetic stripe card (you might also know it as a magstripe or a swipe card), and if you turn it over, you’ll see the long black strip across the top of the card. That’s where your data is stored and it’s how card readers can ‘see’ what that data is when you swipe your card through them.

What's the Difference Between HiCo and LoCo Magstripe Cards
Magnetic Stripe Card

That magnetic strip is made up of a whole lot of minute iron-based particles that are on a strip of magnetic material, and the way it works is that your data is stored by changing the magnetism of those particles.

Where do ‘HiCo’ and ‘LoCo’ come into it?

Those are the types of card available. HiCo cards are long-lasting for frequent use, and LoCo cards are better used for either infrequent use, or for uses where the data is often changed on the card, like the gift cards you get in supermarkets.

If you want the technical bit, HiCo is short for high coercivity, and conversely, LoCo is short for low coercivity. Coercivity is simply how resistant the particles on the magnetic strip are to being demagnetised, or to put it another way, how strong the magnetic strip is.

Scientists use the unit, Oersted (Oe) to measure coercivity, and HiCo cards can go as high as 4000 Oe, with LoCo cards more around the 300 Oe mark. Your credit card is probably around 2750 Oe or upwards.

What does all that actually mean for you? When choosing a card, you need to consider which type is best to do the job you want it to do and whether you need one that lasts and keeps its data or one that’s only for occasional use or where you need to update the data on the card regularly.

Here’s what to think about to decide on which type of card you need:

HiCo card properties:

• It’s much harder to erase the data on these cards
• Very durable and long-lasting
• Recording the data takes a much higher amount of magnetic energy
• These cards can be read easily by any magnetic stripe reader
• HiCo card writers are more expensive to buy than the ones used for LoCo cards, but they can write to either type of card
• HiCo cards are far more resistant to damage, even when in contact with a magnet

These cards are best if you want a long-lasting card that easily handles frequent use, such as your driver’s licence, credit and debit cards, company door access cards, membership cards and library cards.

LoCo card properties:

• These cards are not as long-lasting and are far more easily damaged by any kind of magnetic contact, however brief it is
• Just like HiCo cards, these cards can easily be read by any card reader
• It takes far less magnetic energy to record your data onto one of these cards
• Buying a card writer for LoCo cards is a lot cheaper than for HiCo, but LoCo card writers can only write to LoCo cards

While LoCo cards aren’t great for heavy use, if you need a card where it’s easy to change the data as often as you need to, LoCo cards are perfect. You’ll find them being used for phone cards, store gift cards, hotel key cards and transport passes.

HiCo Magnetic Stripe Cards & LoCo Magnetic Stripe cards are available to purchase from our website with pricing from just £9.79 /ex VAT.

https://www.algidcards.co.uk/product-category/plastic-cards/magnetic-stripe-cards/

Still stuck? No problem. Just give our friendly team a call on 0203 960 5297 and we’ll be happy to help talk you through your options to pick the perfect card for the job.