Sunday, February 17, 2013

Travelling with Baby Tip 1: The passport photo

I have had the fortune (or misfortune in some respects) to do a lot of travelling in the last 2 years. Weekly business trips interstate for work all through my pregnancy ending in my 35th week with my blood pressure sky high and bedrest for 4 days (not recommended).

Our first international trip was in November 2011 with a 7-week-old Little Man flying from Melbourne-Sydney-Dallas (yep that's Dallas USA). We didn't exactly plan to travel with a newborn the whole thing happened because earlier in the year, Qantas launched their direct flights to Dallas. And since the In-Laws live in Dallas, we thought we'd take the opportunity to fly there for Thanksgiving. This was about 3 weeks before we found out that we'd be expecting the Little Man to be born in October. This necessitated a bit of a nervous wait for his birth certificate to arrive so we could apply for his passport. Which leads me to my first tip.

How to take a newborn's passport photo

Australia has some of the strictest regulations for passport photographs that I have ever seen. These rules include:
  • show head and top of shoulders close up, so that the face measures between 32mm and 36mm from the bottom of the chin to the crown (ie top of head without hair)
  • show your shoulders square on (not looking over shoulder)
  • show your face square on (edges of face visible)
  • show you looking straight at the camera (not tilted head)
  • be taken with a neutral expression and your mouth closed (not laughing or frowning
  • show your eyes open and clearly visible, (no hair in eyes).
Additional Requirements for Children and Babies
  • show the baby or child awake, looking straight at the camera with mouth closed and no pacifier.
  • show both edges of the face clearly (no toys, blankets, chair backs or other people visible) and no hair across the eyes

First off getting a newborn to sit at a photobooth or a postshop where they take passport photos is impossible. They are just too wriggly and temperamental. 

My best tip is to lay a whiteboard or white piece of cardboard down on a bed. Lay the baby on the bed and get your digital camera ready. Take A LOT of photos. If the baby gets restless... do something else for a bit then try again. 

What NOT to do

On the left one of the better ones from our early attempts. We used a sheet on the bed as suggested by many websites. The problem is that the sheet always creases and is really really annoying to have to remove on photoshop. This was about 20-30 shots in and we finally get one of him. On the right, an attempt to swaddle him so he wouldn't move and I could take the photo without having to hold him at the same time, except he wriggled out of the swaddle and had his mouth open...Mummy Fail!

After a nap, a nurse and a bath we try again with not much better results.

Finally after another 30 shots, much coaxing and some photo shopping we end up with:

Not quite the best shot but it was the best we could do on short notice which satisfied the Australian Passport requirements. We took this and several other shots which we thought might get a pass to the photo processing shop and they told us which would work the best and sized it to the requirements and printed 4 copies for about $15.

What we SHOULD have done.

When Little Man was 4 months old we took a trip to Singapore for my brother's wedding. When there we had to get passport sized photos for some official documents. Since the Little Man looks so different from his 3 week old photos. We had to take more pictures and I wasn't anywhere near my copy of photoshop. This is when my mother had a brainwave. To avoid the creasing of sheets She laid a white piece of cardboard board down on the bed and put the Little man down on it. And we ended up with a much better photo in fewer shots. 

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