Infant Passport Photo Tutorial

Updated October 8th, 2016

If you have any questions about the safety of using idphoto4you.com, please check out this detailed article I wrote.

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 this post. If you are interested in the standards for an infant photo in Canada, please check out this post. For a tutorial on how to make passport photos for the rest of your family check out this 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:

Travel.state.org – Photo Requirements (Now with built in photo sizing software!)

Travel.state.org – Photographer’s Guide

——–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 $30 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

-your camera

-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 IDPhoto4You 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.

Happy travels!!

Kristin

Other posts you might be interested in:

Traveling with an infant_banner

Baby Travel Pillow_banner

Day trip bag_banner

How to Pack your Suitcase_banner

61 thoughts on “Infant Passport Photo Tutorial

  1. I can not thank you enough… My little one is 7 weeks old and I was at my wit’s end trying to take a photo for his passport… This article definitely helped…

  2. Great info. Helped me get the passport photo’s done quickly for my twins and saved me $30 in the process… Thanks!

  3. Great information! I found this a day before we had our appointment at the Embassy. Saved us! Do you have any blogs that offer insight on traveling with infants? I would love to hear any suggestions. Thanks!

  4. I really liked IDphoto$you and this tutorial, but haven’t been successful at getting my photo downloaded so I can print it. It just wants to install tons of stuff on my pc, which I don’t want to allow. Did anyone else have this problem?
    Thanks,

    1. Hi Robin! There are ads all around the area where your photo will be downloaded. You have to wait for the countdown to finish and then click on. Once the countdown is over you will see a “Download” button in the lower right hand corner, underneath the preview. You can look at this post for clearer instructions about the download (with a picture) http://sproutsenroute.com/diy-passport-photos
      I hope that helps!!
      Happy travels, Kristin

  5. Go ahead and scratch that comment! just be careful where you click – as there are multiple download buttons, and only one is for your photo file – silly me! Once I got that right, it was brilliant. Many thanks for this tip!

  6. thank you, this was very useful! Luckily my baby is getting more adept at looking at the camera, and he looks pretty cute (when his hair is not all crazy, they get that way sometimes) so I’m sure he’s not going to hate his passport picture!

    1. Hi Kim,
      As far as I know there is not a danger for viruses since IDphoto4you uses advertisements to make money off of their site. I have personally not had any problems with them at any time. However, I use a Mac so I don’t have to worry too much about viruses in general. I have never had any complaints from anyone I suggested their website to over the last two years. I hope that helps. Sorry I can’t be more detailed, but I don’t run the website so I can’t say 100% no. I personally trust them.

  7. This was very informative.
    Have been to commercial studios three times but still could’nt get a photo of my newborn.
    Have to travel by 31 march.
    But the passport office says it has to be taken by a commercial photographer ( name of the studio on the back)
    Is it going to be a issue if I do it myself.

    1. Hi! I am so sorry you are having such a hard time with this. I am going to make an assumption and guess you are from Canada. If the answer is yes, read this post, print it out, and take it to the photographer with you. Have them follow my instructions, and hopefully you will finally get the photo you need. Thanks for writing in. I really hope everything works out. Happy travels, Kristin

    2. if you are from Canada living in the USA, you can always go to Walgreens, they print canadian passport photos and they stamp the back on the passport photos and date them. I live in Utah and had to get some done here.. went to few places myself but none of them would do canadian passport photos….

  8. Thank you for this article. Very useful indeed. Walgreens took an absolute rubbish pic of my infant. Only one ear showing and also a shadow on his face “:-(

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for the tips on taking baby photos and the link to IDphoto4you website.

    Although, I’ve heard from other friends and family as well that the baby’s ears have to be visible, it’s not mentioned in the official requirements in the government web page. It also says a newborn’s eyes can be closed.

    “It is acceptable if an infant’s eyes, particularly a newborn’s, are not, or are not entirely, open. All other children must have their eyes open and looking straight ahead towards the camera. ”

    Sources –

    http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/under-16.html

    http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/photos/frequently-asked-questions.html#Photo

    – Sanjog

    1. Hi Sanjog,
      Thank you for your updated information. It appears that they have changed their rules on the passport website, “When taking photos of newborns and infants, please make sure no other person is in the photo, and the child is looking at the camera (preferably with his or her eyes open, not required for infants and newborns).” However, I would not want to have to go back again, and therefore would make sure I had a photo with their eyes open, since that is preferable. Plus I have not actually heard of anyone having a photo with their infant’s eyes closed being approved at this point, so until I do, I think it is best to advise my readers to take a photo with their eyes open.

  10. Newborns look easy compared to a walking/curious/wanting-the-camera/climbing/distractable 11 month old. They each have their difficulties I guess!

    I did finally get a decent picture but then I think I adjusted it up too much to try get the eyes in the right spot. Looks like you didn’t worry about eye position though so I’m going to go back and just worry about her head/chin. Good to know hopefully the US Dept of State understands baby vs. adult face proportions.

  11. What an informative posting. I just finished photos of my 6 week old grandson for his passport. The biggest challenge I had was getting both ears showing! I finally took two cosmetic sponges and cut arc shaped pieces and put them behind both ears. I t made them stand out just enough to see on the photo. I also set my camera to shoot “continuously” to improve my chances of the best position. Everything else was easy as you described it! Let’s see how it goes now! Thanks for saving us a lot of time!

    1. Dear Rujian, I do my best to keep this information updated, but it is constantly changing. When the other people wrote about the ears showing, it was still a requirement. I have personally had newborn photos rejected because the ears were not both visible. This tutorial was originally written in 2012, and is a suggested way to take newborn passport photos.

  12. Thank you team for your guidance and help. This website is great for printing your child’s passport photo and if I had googled earlier would have saved myself 20 dollars for a not good photo.. Thank you again

  13. Hi Kristin, after I clicked on “make photo” it has me click on “download” and then general software programs to convert pdf to files come up. I can not locate the image I just created. I’ve tried 4x now…please help?

    1. Hi Michelle, you are probably clicking on an ad that says “Download” … I’m sorry I know that is confusing. Make sure you locate the “Download” button as indicated in the photos that go with this tutorial. If there is any other way I can help, please let me know. Happy Travels, Kristin

    2. Michelle, I just realized that the photo I was alluding to is in another post. I have added a new photo of where to click to download to this post. I hope that helps.

Leave a Reply