As someone always keen to save a pound or two, I recently decided to go down the DIY route when it came to ‘Beetle’s’ baby passport photo. We’ve literally just received his passport this week, so I thought I’d share with you what I did to take our own baby passport photos. I can’t 100% guarantee it’ll work every time, but it worked for us and I’m pretty confident it’ll work for you too if you follow the guidance.
If you’ve got the right kit – which chances are you have – then it’s a really simple process. It takes the hassle out of having to make a special trip to your local Snappy Snaps or having to figure out how to hold up the head of a newborn with no neck muscles in a photo booth. Having seen the professionals in Timpson basically prop L up against a photocopier and snap away with a cheap digital camera when we got her passport photo done, I figured it can’t actually be that difficult.
So, to take your own baby passport photo, you’ll need a few things:
- A baby (preferably your own)
- A camera / camera phone (needs to be good quality – I used my Nikon 1 J5 CSC)
- A light-coloured foam board (or in fact any plain background which you can put your baby on – some people use sheets, but that creates a lot of shadow)
- A location with natural light (by a window or patio door during the day, for instance)
- A toy or something that makes a noise (to get them to look forward)
- A lot of patience (and then some more…)
- A computer with internet (for getting it ready to print)
- Photo paper (to print the baby passport photo on)
- A photo printer (to print the baby passport photo)
Although the whole passport application process isn’t too bad, I think one of the things that scares a lot of people are all of the rules around what is and isn’t acceptable for the photo. I mean, no-one wants to be this couple who supposedly spent five hours trying to get the correct photo of their baby.
Yes, there are a lot of rules, but you just need to tick them off one by one – to be honest, they’re pretty obvious things anyway. There’s actually less rules associated with taking a baby passport photo – for instance, they don’t even need to have their eyes open. The below is taken from Gov.UK, but I’ve tried to make it a bit clearer:
- Photo Size: It should be 45mm x 35mm, which is the standard size used in UK photo booths.
- Photo Quality: A clear and in focus photo taken within the last month. It should be printed to a professional standard in colour and on plain white photo paper with no border. There shouldn’t be any creases, tears or marks to either side of the photo, apart from if it has been countersigned.
- Photo Image: A close-up of your baby’s full head and upper shoulders, with the distance between the chin and top of the head being between 29mm and 34mm. The photo should be of your baby only and not contain anything else in it (e.g. toys, dummies, parent’s hand). They don’t have to be looking at the camera, they don’t need a neutral expression and they don’t even have to have their eyes open (if under one). However, they can’t have hair over their eyes, can’t have anything covering their face, can’t have ‘red eye’, can’t have shadows on their face, and if wearing glasses, there can’t be glare or reflections. Your baby should be against a plain cream or light grey background so that there’s a clear contrast, with no shadows on the background. Finally, don’t alter the image using computer software.
Not too scary, eh?! Basically, just take a good quality photo of your baby – and only your baby – facing forward, then the ‘measurement’ stuff can be done later. The two most difficult things I found were (1) shadows and (2) trying to get his face looking forwards.
For the first point, you’ll want to utilise natural light. We have bi-fold doors, so the light floods in which is handy – he was placed with the top of his head towards the light on a bright but not sunny day to minimise any shadows being cast across his face or the background. This also meant I wasn’t causing any shadows myself. If you don’t have great natural light in the house, you could always go outside.
Secondly, a newborn has no neck control, so their head is often flopped to the side. This gets easier as the baby gets older and can move their head. We found having a second person to move the baby’s head to face forwards, then quickly moving their hand so the photo could be taken, worked pretty well. As did putting a rattle or toy directly above the camera to get them to look – although, remember that eyes don’t have to be open so you could always take the photo when they’re asleep.
Once you’ve snapped away and taken loads of photos, stick them onto your computer and choose the best image. Remember, you’re basically wanting one where your baby is facing forward with no shadows, obstructions or objects.
The next step is getting the photos ready to print – namely, ensuring that the actual photo and the size of the image on the photo were correct. To help with this, I had a quick Google and found the imaginatively entitled Passport Photos 4 You website.
This allowed me to select the photo size for my country, upload my chosen image and then edit the photo so that it fitted into the contour shape and crop rectangle. By doing this, I was able to ensure that the size of the image met the baby passport photo requirements, i.e. the photo is 45mm x 35mm and chin to head is between 29mm and 34mm. There was an option to adjust the brightness and contrast, but as the rules say the image should be altered, I decided not to do this.
When you’re happy with the photo, you can then download the image as eight passport sized photos ready for printing. This was something I was able to do at home as we have an HP Envy Photo Photo 7830 Wireless All-In-One Printer which prints really good quality photos.
Finally, pop the two photos into the envelope with your completed application form – remembering to separate them from each other and not attach them to your form – and job’s a good ‘un. Fast forward three weeks, and you should have a shiny, new, baby passport in your possession ready to explore the world!
Of course, not every photo makes the grade – here’s a few which were quietly placed to the side: