So the time has come to make a passport for Elliott. The husband is against taking him overseas because he thinks that it will just be a very tiring “holiday” for the adults since Elliott won’t remember anything. I am also a little fearful about meltdowns on board a plane thousands of feet up in the air with no where to run. I get really envious when I hear of friends taking their little ones on holiday where undoubtedly, it is extremely tiring for the parents but I would so love to go overseas with the little man.

Finally, I managed to arm-twist convince the husband to go on a very very close destination that does not require any plane ride. Best of all, both our mums will be coming along so I have plans to run off to have a much-needed massage and spa session. We will be heading to the exciting island of…Batam.

Don’t laugh please. It’s overseas, requires a passport and importantly, is only a 45-minute ferry ride away! I’d take what I can get, thankyouverymuch.

So yes, it was time to make Elliott his first passport. I see many new parents doing it themselves with a digital camera and a white background so I decided we’d do it too.

Step 1: Find a plain white-ish background

This is very important. ICA states that your photo must be taken “against a plain white background without any shadows”. It may be a bit challenging to take a picture without shadows but TGFP – Thank God For Photoshop. Just photoshop the shadow away once you’ve taken that elusive photo.

Step 2: Position subject against said background

We found the perfect spot on Elliott’s changing table. It was placed against a wall and because he can sit upright, it is easier to snap that elusive headshot.

Step 3: Engage help of other half

Or any other person that is willing to call your child’s name a million times, dance around like a monkey, make silly noises, etc, to attract the attention of the child. In our case, the husband was the entertainer while I was the photographer.

Step 4: Give child a toy (or a used envelope, tube of moisturiser, etc)

Actually, just hand the child something so that he/she is distracted. In our case, we gave Elliott his spoon. He loves it over many other toys. Don’t ask me why.

Step 5: Take a gazillion shots

Really. Trust me on this one. Snap away and importantly, keep your hands as still as possible (or just use a tripod). Some of the shots turned out blurry because I was too excited when HE LOOKED UP AT THE CAMERA!

Step 6: Narrow down the selection

I must have taken close to 20 shots and eventually, narrowed it down to this 6 pictures. Note spoon in his hands.

Elliott's passport photo-001

Step 7: Crop selected photos

Only a clear headshot is required so that’s where the cropping tool comes in. It was down to these 3 pictures.

Elliott's passport photo1-001

Option 3 was a little blurry so that was a no go. Option 2 was my favourite but erm, the son looked like he doesn’t have a neck so that’s a no go as well. We were left with Option 1.

Step 8: Apply Photoshop to background

With a tiny bit of very basic Photoshop magic on the background, this was the final submission:


A couple of days later, I received this email from ICA:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 12.03.32 pm

My heart sank.

Our trip to Batam is in about 2 and a half weeks and I did not want to be faced with the possibility of us having to cancel the trip because his passport is not ready. I had 2 options:

  1. Get the husband to work on the existing photos, i.e. with more intensive Photoshop, so that the lighting is even. This is time-consuming and I’m not sure when/where he will find the time;
  2. Get Elliott to a shop, pay some money and get the photo taken.

My mum happened to be in town the same day and when I shared this information with her, she said that she’d take Elliott to Tanglin Mall to have his passport taken professionally. Apparently, the Kodak Express shop at the basement near the supermarket is an expert at taking passport photos of little wriggly ones.

I specifically told my mum to dress him in the same onesie (and shared the above photos with her so that she will see what I mean) and also to ‘please ensure that his hair is neat and tidy‘. Unfortunately, in my haste, I forgot to remind her ‘please button up his onesie‘.

The result is this photo of my son looking like a samseng in a mugshot:

online Singapore-001

His hair is unkempt (note difference between top few photos and this one), his onesie is unbuttoned (untidy), his double chin is visible (not a big issue – makes me laugh, actually) and his stunned expression – he looks like he got caught for drink-driving. Or underaged drinking. OR underaged driving and drinking.


Sigh sigh SIGH.

Friends consoled me that the eventual passport photo will be grainy and in black-and-white. And ‘who cares how your passport photo looks like anyway?!’. I guess they’re right. But still, I can’t help but feel URGH.

Anyway. I guess I’d just have to look at the bigger picture and be thankful that his passport will be processed in time for our trip….HOPEFULLY!

Tell me. Do you have a passport photo of your kid looking as bad as mine too? Please share it with me so that I don’t feel so pfffffft.

Post-script: 2 days after submitting the samseng professional photo, I received an email to say that his passport is ready. Oh joy!

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