My two weeks old daughter needs a passport and, for this, we need a picture of her.

Since we struggle to get a good angle of her for our own, private pictures, it seems to be even more complicated to get her show a steady face, with open eyes and without our arms being visible.

Are there any tricks to accomplish such [titanic] task?

I have gone through articles like 10 Tips for Photographing Babies and I specially like the hint of "keep shooting", but I wonder if something more practical can be used.

  • 1
    Are there not passport photo services in the area? They know how to take proper pictures that will be accepted by government services.
    – Erik
    Jul 23 '15 at 7:20
  • 1
    @Erik, basically a good idea, but especially with very young babies (two weeks here!) packing everything you need and go to a photographer can be a gigantic hassle. Also, note that baby might not have a fixed schedule, so you need to catch "awake time" - and get a free slot at the studio at the same time. That could actually be the one day baby decides to sleep for five hours straight... At a few months old, absolutely.
    – Stephie
    Jul 23 '15 at 8:52
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    The Canadian page for passport give some good tips. At that age (in Canada at least) it's ok to take the picture in the car seat, as long as the background is white.
    – the_lotus
    Jul 23 '15 at 11:59
  • Note that answers will vary by jurisdiction, so you should probably mention yours. The usually-intransigent UK Passport Authority, for example, concede that Children under 6 don’t have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression. Children under 1 don’t have to have their eyes open.
    – AakashM
    Jul 24 '15 at 13:12
  • Thank you all for the input. I finally manage to do this by placing her in a white sheet and taking the picture from above.
    – fedorqui
    Aug 8 '15 at 13:50

First, even the authorities know that taking passport pictures according to that "standard" isn't always feasible and usually will accept your best attempt even if the head is not perfectly straight etc.

We had good results when keeping the following things in mind:

  • Timing and Preparation
    Pick a time when your baby is happy, awake and alert, not hungry, has a fresh diaper etc. You will have about ten, in some cases twenty minutes tops to get the shot, so make sure your equipment is ready. There is a reason that most of these super-cute newborn baby pictures on the Internet show sleeping babies...

  • Location and Lighting
    Most photographers are used to their models sitting upright. Taking pictures of a baby laying on his back can be confusing and also difficult if you block the light from the ceiling lamp (assuming no professional light setup). Yet a 2-week-old obviously can't sit alone, you need someone to hold the baby.

    • One option is to sit either on the floor or a sofa and to put your feet about a foot from your rear, forming a "ramp" with your thighs. Place the baby on your thighs, bottom at your crotch, nesting the head in the slight groove between your thighs. This is actually a good position if you need to take the pictures without help - coo and tickle your baby, keeping it happy, snap a few shots, repeat. If you are really good (like, experienced selfie-shooter) you may even be able to hold the camera next to your head and shoot and play at the same time.
    • Another option is to hold him with his back towards your stomach, one arm under this bottom,the other holding him across the chest, facing the camera. This has the big advantage that you can easily manouever baby towards the light source and generally make snaping the pictures easier for the photographer. Can't really be done alone, obviously.
    • And of course you can shoot her on her back, but this means you will have to bend over or even get down on your knees or down on the floor. Depends on the child, mine prefered to be somewhat upright anyway, meaning I had only a few minutes before they would either insist on being picked up again or fall asleep.

    Try to be as gentle as possible with the light - no flash, no glaring sunlight (baby will shut her eyes, turn away, scrunch up the nose...), but choose a place with lots of diffuse light to avoid harsh shadows. Outdoors on an overcast day could be ideal or indoors close to a large window.... We once found "perfect light" under a white umbrella on a bright (glaring, even) sunny day. If you must use a flash, try to point it towards the ceiling. Consider choosing a higher ISO, you won't enlarge the passport pictures anyway, so noise/grainyness isn't much if an issue. Don't be afraid to shoot wherever the light is good, in the end you need only the head / face and a minimum of neutral background.

  • Hiding the props and keeping the model in a good mood
    Remember: You only need to get the head for your final picture. So there is absolutely no problem with hands etc. elsewhere. But the required "neutral" backdrop can also be achieved by a blanket covering you or your helper: draped over your thighs or over your chest, or even over your hand as it cradles the baby's head. Keep shooting, then cut off superfluous parts of the final picture.
    For older babies, a distracting second (or third...) helper making funny faces is excellent, but for a 2-week-old his eyesight may not be too good yet. So use sound to keep him alert and awake: talk, sing, use a small bell. Or sensory stimuli like light tickling with a feather or plush toy, stroking, gentle blowing...

For more technical details, check out our sister site Photography SE.


Two weeks old should be a pretty easy age for that, as she's not going to squirm around too much. Put her on a light coloured sheet on a bed, and take the photo from above. Just make sure you get a direct front shot with no significant shadows, both eyes open, and both ears visible and you should be fine.

  • Mmmm any trick to get the eyes opened? She can stay hours with them closed.
    – fedorqui
    Jul 22 '15 at 23:09
  • @fedorqui: Some kind of distraction should do the trick. It might take both of you, one to get her attention and the other to work the camera. Jul 22 '15 at 23:16
  • You could try tickling her feet -- enough of a distraction to get her eyes open, but not so much that she might get scared or excessively wiggly.
    – Acire
    Jul 23 '15 at 0:06

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