Make Your Own Mug Shot

Smile for the camera in a fake police mug shot

Mug shot of disheveled woman
rubberball/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Pictures of people that focus on just the head or from mid-chest and up are called headshots or mug shots. Mugshots can be serious photos or seriously fun. One kind of mug shot is the photo taken of people who have been arrested. These are police booking photos. People like to make fake mug shots of themselves or friends too.

Then, there are also the mug shots (headshots) that are used in newsletters and business brochures, book jackets, and school yearbooks. These generally have nothing to do with crime. Which kind of mug shot do you want to make?

Create Fake Police Mug Shots

Less traumatic than getting yourself arrested, you can create a fake police booking photo of yourself or a friend as a gag gift. Use the fake photos in postcards or greeting cards or as your Facebook profile pic. Turn your mug shot into a fun WANTED Poster using posed or candid shots, free fonts, and paper backgrounds. You can easily make your own fake mug shot with a digital camera or  even the camera on your smartphone and basic graphics software (even Windows Paint will work for this):

  1. Look the part by messing up your hair, not shaving, smearing your makeup.
  2. Use a plain white or gray or light but solid background.
  3. Use harsh or unflattering lighting.
  4. Look bored, half-asleep, embarrassed, a little angry, drunk, confused, or make a weird face.
  5. Hold up a sign with your name, date, and location (or you can add this later in your graphics software).
  6. Take a headshot (basically mid-chest and up) and don't worry too much about being perfectly in focus.
  7. Optionally, do both a face forward and a profile pic and arrange side-by-side in your graphics software.
  8. Crop the photo as necessary in your graphics software. Add a sign if you didn't use one in a photo. Don't retouch the photo to make it look better. Poor quality looks more realistic.

Or, use one of these online resources to modify your headshot into a mug shot.

  • Mugshot Maker is a Java applet that lets you upload a photo and turn it into a mug shot.
  • Fantasy Felon requires registration but it's free and lets you turn your photo into a booking photo. Includes tips on the best photos to use to create a more realistic booking photo.

Look at Real Police Mug Shots

Go out and get yourself arrested and you get yourself a real, bona fide police booking photo. If you'd rather just look at pictures of real criminals here's a collection for your entertainment:

Use Headshots as Mug Shots

If what you're looking for isn't a faux police booking mugshot, then there's no need to try getting yourself arrested. Instead, you want headshots that look good – not like a rogue's gallery of weird criminals. Learn How to Prepare for a Headshot Photo Shoot.