Taking passport photos of a baby at home is not as complicated as you might think. In fact, you can even take a passport photo of your baby using your smartphone, provided it has a good camera.
In this article, we’re going to look at the steps you need to take in order to take a good passport photo of your baby that will not get rejected. But as a quick overview, below are some key points you need to keep in mind when taking passport photos of a baby using a smartphone.
Key points for taking baby passport photos at home:
- Use a plain, white background
- Nothing and nobody else should be in the photo
- The baby must face the camera directly
- The baby’s eyes should be open (except newborn infants)
- The facial expression should be neutral (a natural smile may be accepted)
- The face should not be obscured (no hands, hats, eyewear, or pacifiers)
- Make sure the lighting is even with no shadows
- Avoid blurry photos
- The photo must be in colour
- Don’t edit or add filters/effects to the photo
Each country has its own specific passport photo requirements, particularly when it comes to size. So, be sure to find out what your country’s requirements are and comply with them to avoid the photo getting rejected.
Below are a quick guide and a few tips that will help you capture the best possible baby passport photos.
STEP 1: Prepare
You need to plan when you’re going to take your baby’s passport photo around the baby’s schedule so that the little one will be in the best of moods to cooperate. Hungry babies want nothing else but food, so make sure that the child has eaten to avoid uncooperative behaviour.
Also, unless the baby is an infant, the child’s eyes have to be wide open and looking directly into the camera. Having the baby take a nap before taking the photo can help.
But before you bring in the baby to take photos after a nap, make sure that you have everything you need ready. We all know that babies can have wild mood swings. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to take a photo because you were still setting things up.
STEP 2: Set up
Things that you might want to do before you shoot include finding the right background, making sure the lighting is adequate, and checking that your smartphone camera settings are set to take the best photo possible.
Passport photos require a plain, white or off-white (cream or light grey) background. For that, you can use a white wall, white door, white paper, or a white sheet in front of which you can sit the baby to take a photo. The background should not be shiny or reflective.
If the baby is too young to sit on its own, you can lay it flat on its back against a white surface and take the photo from directly above. Another option is to place the baby in a car seat covered with a white sheet and then take the picture.
The best lighting is natural lighting. Therefore, it’s best to take your baby’s passport photo during the day instead of at night. Smartphone cameras are known for not performing well in low-light conditions, so you need to get as much natural light as possible.
For the best results, you need to position the baby near a source of light such as a door, window, skylight, or even outside. If you’re using a window or door as a source of light, make sure the baby is facing the light and doesn’t have their back towards the light.
Since a skylight brings light in from above, it works well as a light source when taking a passport photo of an infant lying on its back.
Alternatively, if you have a room in your home that has very bright house lights, they can also work well to light your baby’s passport photo.
One thing you need to be mindful of is shadows. The baby’s passport photo should be evenly lit with very little to no shadows. So, when placing your baby in front of the white background, make sure it’s not casting any shadows on the background. If it is, then move the baby away from the background until there is no shadow being cast on it.
Also, be mindful of your own shadow. You don’t want to obscure the light source to the point where your shadow or that of the camera can be seen on the baby. But remember, a passport photo is not a full body shot. So, it’s okay if the shadows fall somewhere out of the frame of the shot.
Firstly, it goes without saying that you need a phone with a good camera to take a passport photo that will be acceptable to the authorities. If your phone has low megapixels and takes grainy images, it won’t do. You need a phone with at least a 12MP camera.
For more details on what type of mobile camera is good enough to take passport photos, read the article below.
Secondly, if you’re going to take the photo using Pro mode, you need to make sure that your white balance matches the lighting, and that your exposure is set correctly. You can do this by using metering or by adjusting the ISO and shutter speed.
For most people, the default Auto mode works just fine and requires no tinkering with the settings. So, unless you switch to Pro mode, there’s no need to worry about any of the above settings.
STEP 3: Shoot
Once you have prepped the baby and set everything up, it’s time to take the passport photo of the baby with your phone. To make sure the photo comes out looking good, keep the following in mind:
Keep the camera steady
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind about a passport photo is that it should not be blurry. Therefore, you need to make sure that you keep your photo steady when taking your baby’s passport photo.
You can do that by supporting your phone with something steady, such as a tripod, or by keeping your hands very still. Just make sure that you shoot at a high shutter speed to minimize any camera or motion blur. Also, if your mobile camera has OIS, make sure it is switched on.
ALSO READ: 4 HIGHLY Recommended Tripods For Smartphones
While still on the topic of preventing blurry photos, make sure that the focus is sharp before taking the photo. Most camera apps have auto-focus activated by default, which allows the camera to find the subject and focus on it automatically when you press the shutter button.
However, the camera can get its calculations wrong sometimes. If that happens, you might have to adjust the focus yourself by using manual focus or, in some instances, by tapping on the area where you want to focus.
Framing refers to how you position a subject within a photo. A passport photo is no place to get creative with framing. The subject should be centred, and the photo should be taken at eye level with the baby looking directly at the camera.
The head should fill most of the frame but not entirely. The shoulders need to be visible, and there needs to be space above the head, too.
If the baby is lying on its back for the passport photo, getting an eye-level photo means aiming the smartphone camera at the baby from directly above.
To get an eye-level photo of a baby that’s sitting up, you need to get down to the baby’s level. Don’t stand above the baby so that the child looks up at the camera. That’s not allowed.
If you can’t get down to the child’s level, then consider placing the baby on an elevated platform to make it easier for you to get an eye-level photo of the child.
Avoid digital zoom
Unlike optical zoom, digital zoom degrades the picture quality more and more as you zoom in. Therefore, if you want to take good quality baby passport photos with a phone, then you shouldn’t stand too far from the baby and zoom in using digital zoom. Rather, position yourself closer to the child and use as little digital zoom as possible.
However, smartphones with optical zoom (usually those with a telephoto camera) can zoom in further without degrading the picture quality.
Don’t use flash
There are two reasons why you should not use the flash on your smartphone to take passport photos of your baby. Firstly, it’s too weak to light your baby adequately, especially in low-light conditions. And it will cast shadows on the background.
Secondly, flash has a tendency to create the red-eye effect, which is a big no-no for passport photos. If you need extra lighting, it’s best you use these options instead of the flash on your phone.
STEP 4: Print/Upload
After you have taken the baby’s passport photo, the final step is to get the photo to where it needs to go. Depending on whether you’re doing an online application or a paper application, you will need to either upload the photo with your online application or print it to be submitted with your paperwork.
Either way, before you print or upload the photos, you need to make sure that they are the correct dimensions. Remember to check what the dimensions for your area are from your local passport issuing authority.
With the right dimensions at hand, you can resize or crop the photos yourself using a photo editing app on your phone or computer to get the right size.
However, the easiest way to do that, especially if you aren’t at all knowledgeable in photo editing, is to use a passport photo app or website. They usually have templates that make it easy to upload your photo and adjust it to fit the correct dimensions.
For a detailed guide on how to crop and print your passport photos yourself at home, click here.
Keep the baby happy
An unhappy baby will show in their facial expressions, which is not good for the passport photo. Therefore, make sure the child is fed, rested, and comfortable.
If the child is too young to sit or stand on their own, then you need to provide extra support. Remember, no hands can be visible in the photo. So, you can support the child using a pillow or towel that’s covered with a white sheet. Nothing above the sheet.
Guide the baby’s attention
The baby has to look directly into the camera for the passport photo. This can be a bit of a challenge, particularly if the baby is too young to understand what’s going on. What you will need to do is guide the baby’s attention towards the camera.
You can do this by snapping your fingers or waving toys near the camera to get the baby to look in the direction of the camera. Remember, nothing else should be in the photo. So, whatever you use to get the baby’s attention, make sure it stays out of the shot and doesn’t cast any shadows in the photo.
If things aren’t going well and the baby is not cooperating, try to be patient with the child. Remember, you have all the time in the world and you’re not paying a cent. If you need to, take a break and try again later. Your patience will finally be rewarded when the baby finally cooperates.
Sometimes, a successful shoot might require a team effort. One person can take care of the baby and guide its attention while the other takes the photo. If you have nobody available to help you, a tripod could definitely come in handy.
Take many photos
Another reason you need to be patient is that you might not get it right the first time. You need to give yourself enough time to take lots of pictures until you’re sure you got it right. The baby might move or look away, or the photo might be blurry. Therefore, it might take several attempts until you get a good passport photo of the little one.
Taking passport photos of your little one shouldn’t be too challenging if you plan for it, use the right tools, and show a little patience. And if you follow the tips and guidelines above, you should be able to capture and pretty decent baby passport photo.