The Illusive Toddler – DIY Passport Photo Tutorial

Updated October 20th, 2014: If you have any questions about the safety of using, please check out this detailed article I wrote.

For anyone that has followed my Infant Passport Photo DIY Tutorial… I know it can be difficult to photograph newborns, but compared to photographing an 18 month old, taking infant passport photos is super easy!

passport photo toddler 18 month old copy

I was taking some updated passport photos of our youngest, and he is 18 months old. 18 month olds can run away, stand up on things, reach out to touch the camera, demand food and water at any variable and constancy, and basically make taking passport photos impossible. You still have all of the requirements of the dreaded infant passport photo, but you have to get your bounding toddler to look at the camera at exactly the right angle, without a shadow, and without their mouth open. You can check out a complete list of requirements on this post, but for now, here are a few tips to help take passport photos of the ever illusive 18 month old.

Prepare your workspace ahead of time. Preferably when your toddler isn’t looking because then they will want to invade your workspace prematurely. The best thing to do is pick a spot with good, even lighting, and if there is a shadow on your white background, move your child one to two feet away from the background. This will eliminate the shadow. You may need a bigger background in this instance. My favorite background is a large white wall, for the flexibility.

Have them sit down. This gives you a slightly larger time buffer before they take off running. Slightly… I covered the chair with a white tea towel to cut down on editing later.

Employ the fake sneeze, or other favorite game. To get them to look at you, use something that they love that gets their attention. With our son I use the fake sneeze, or peek-a-boo.

Channel your inner ninja… you need to be swift and graceful! Trying to put them back on the chair and position their face quick enough to snap a shot while having the camera in your other hand requires some other worldly skills.

Move quickly and take a zillion shots!!! Your small child will lose their patience and interest very fast, so you have to move fast! Take as many photos as you can, as quickly as you can.

Use autofocus!! No, seriously, you have to.

Bribe them shamelessly. “Look, Mommy has a cookie that is all yours as soon as we finish. Do you want a cookie? Of course you do!”

passport photo diy tutorial toddler

In the end, I got the shot after a very hectic 15 minutes and one cookie. I’m glad I won’t have to do it again for a while. My 4 and 6 year olds were much easier to work with. I only had to shoot two photos each to get the perfect shots.

If your child has long hair, make sure the hair is pushed out of the way so that both ears are showing.

For those with vision impaired children (like me!) please remember to have your child take off their glasses for the picture. You don’t want all of your hard work to be for nothing.

passport photo diy tutorial six year old

passport photo diy 4 year old

Now that you have the perfect picture, head on over to this tutorial, which will walk you step by step through creating a passport ready image you can take in with your application.

Happy travels!!

P.S. If you find that your shot isn’t bright enough (even after editing in IDPhoto4U), and you don’t have photo editing software, email me your picture and I will edit it for you ( Just make sure your child is facing front, both ears are showing, and there is no shadow on their face, or else I won’t be able to help you.