Recently I had to take some passport photos of my children. I had to grapple with the idea that everything that I would normally do for a flattering portrait photo I was not to do for a passport photo. So for those who have recently had their passport photo taken, if it wasn’t flattering understand that it had nothing to do with you. I assure you, you look amazing! Passport photos requirements are quite strict. They require: face square on, eyes looking directly at the camera, no smiling or frowning, be of head and shoulders, face size needs to be within the specified dimensions, even (or flat) lighting, correct colouring, not too light or too dark, against a white evenly lit background etc etc. The list just seemed to go on. Initially I tried to get it done at my local post office but after several attempts it proved to be too impossible. Especially Ada found it difficult to look at the camera without a smiling. It is only natural that we should smile! Here I was telling her to do the opposite. After not being able to find an alternative I realised that I would have to do it myself.
My initial set-up was using an off-camera flash firing onto a wall behind the subject (being my child) with a setting that would cause the wall to do what photographers call blow out and become white. I just then used natural light coming in through my front door to light the subject from the front. This worked ok but not good enough. The weather was very poor (raining) and there wasn’t enough natural light, resulting in me needing to use a large aperture. Creating nice looking images due to the blurring created by the small depth of field. But not what the passport office wanted. I figured it was training – that is, training my children how NOT to smile. The photos I got however, were very cute! Despite knowing the set-up wasn’t quite right, I decided to make the most of the moment and have a little photo shoot of my children, have a bit of fun. Passports can wait another day.
The second time I set-up the shoot on the my deck under cover (still raining) and used a sheet as the back drop with an off-camera flash set-up to blow out the sheet to white. I then used my on-camera flash to front-light the subject, not flattering, however what they require. The photos turned out, however, I had to do Ewan’s again. Using the same set-up, third time lucky, I took the final shots, edited them, and then printed them out at the photo shop. With much trepidation I sent the forms off and the kids passports were sent to us without any issues. My advice to any-one who wants to travel over-seas and needs children’s passports good luck!! I think the hardest thing that I found was trying to get my daughter to close her mouth, look at me and not smile. As shown in this SMALL sample of the series of photos taken of her (enjoy):