Updated October 8th, 2016
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Note: This post is a tutorial on how to take and print an acceptable infant passport photo in the United States, if you are interested in requirements to obtain an infant passport, please see post. If you are interested in the standards for an infant photo in Canada, please check out post. For a tutorial on how to make passport photos for the rest of your family check out post.
Please note that below these links you will find the original post that was written in July of 2012. The government has been changing their requirements constantly over the last six months. I personally find this annoying, but getting passport photos is a necessary evil. For the most updated information, please check this website:
(Now with built in photo sizing software!)
——–The Original Post from 2012——–
We just recently applied for Timo’s passport because we are planning a trip back to the United States (our homeland), and we had to figure out how to take an acceptable passport photo of a 6 day year old. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but we were able to do it with a few tricks, and by taking a zillion bad pictures in the process. So I decided to write an infant passport photo tutorial to help out any other parent trying accomplish this interesting feat.
In my opinion, the best way to take infant passport photos is to do it yourself at home. When Kati was a baby, we took her to Sears Portrait Studio because a few people told us that was the only place that did infant newborn passport photos. We ended up paying over for two photos, and they weren’t good, so we had to go back after looking at the photos once we were “finished,” for a second attempt. Not to mention that they practically blinded Kati trying to get her to open her eyes.
This time around, we were in Greece, so we definitely couldn’t go to Sears again. They have a passport photo booth at the embassy, but it wasn’t equipped for taking newborn photos, so that wasn’t a solution. The only solution we had was to do it ourselves, so we did. Here is a quick tutorial on how to take your own infant passport photos at home, and make sure they are within the right measurements, using a handy website that is totally free.
First let’s go through the requirements for your baby’s passport photo, so you know what and what not to do.
1. They need to be facing the camera straight on.
2. Their eyes have to be open (if your newborn is awake, use this window of opportunity instead of waiting until they fall asleep and then trying to wake them up. Pictures of babies crying do not go over well…).
As of Sept. 14th, 2015 this is no longer a requirement, but a preference according to the Travel.gov website. But I haven’t heard of anyone having success submitting a photo with their child’s eyes closed yet, so I would still aim for a photo with their eyes open.
3. Both ears MUST be visible in the picture.
As of Oct. 8th 2016 I no longer see this requirement on the Travel.gov website.
4. Their mouth must be closed (you can see in the picture of Timo that we used that his mouth is a TINY bit open, that is ok).
As of Oct. 8th 2016 I no longer see this requirement on the Travel.gov website, though it clarifies that the should have a neutral expression.
5. No part of the parent’s hands or arms can be showing.
6. The background must be white.
7. There can be no shadows on the subjects face.
Ok, now that you know what an insane list you are facing, calm down, and let’s set up your workspace, because that is going to help you cross many of these things off of your list.
Find something that your baby can sit in, like a car seat, swing, or relaxer (we used a relaxer) and get these items:
-two small towels or burp clothes to roll up and place behind the head
-a white sheet or blanket for behind the baby
-someone to help hold the baby’s body in place
Take your two towels (or whatever you got), roll them up and place them in the relaxer according to this picture. This step will help ensure that your baby’s head is at a straight on position in the picture. Make sure you place them UNDER the sheet.
Place your baby in position and have a helper hold the baby’s body in position. This was my job while my husband took the pictures. I also made sure to hold Timo’s outfit down because it was bunching up around his face and blocking his chin.
Remember that you want to do this when your baby is already awake because their eyes need to be open, and you do not want them crying in the pictures. Use your camera’s automatic focus feature. You do not want to be trying to figure out the focus, or anything else while you are doing this. Let the camera do it’s thing. Also make sure you are using the right lighting option, because you do not want shadows on your little one’s face. We opened up all the windows and turned the flash off because it was the brightest part of the day.
Take a lot of pictures, because you might get one acceptable one out of fifty.
I have also heard that people simply hold their baby with their hands underneath a white sheet. If that works for you, go for it, but this way was easier for us because our son is pretty wiggly.
Ok, now that you have at least one good photo (hopefully) you can go to and size your picture to print. This step is important because the face actually has to fit within certain dimensions on the photo, and the dimensions and size of the photo change depending on the country. First input your country on the drop down menu, and select which photo to upload. Make sure you use the crop and guide step to get your photo within the right dimensions. You want the top of the head, and the bottom of the chin both within the green guides. In order to see the green guides, click the box that reads, “Show adjuster mask.” You can also edit the brightness and contrast in this step.
Once you click “Make Photo” you will have to wait 120 seconds to be able to download your photo (it is a free service after all…).
Make sure you take note of the correct printing size which will be under your photo in the section called “Printing the photo.” Write it down, and you can take your photo on a USB stick to any photo printer. We happen to have one three doors down from out house. Of course, you could also print it out yourself, but make sure you use nice, glossy, photo paper.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
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