In which our reluctant hero delves inside number nine of the “Difficult Jobs for Dads” handbook.
There are lots of tricky parenting jobs. These include, in no particular order;
- Keeping socks on a newborn (even using “Sock Ons”) for more than twenty seconds.
- Adjusting a sling to fit dad without cutting off all circulation from the shoulders downwards.
- Remembering to switch the baby monitor on.
- Dealing with colic for more than a week without losing your sanity.
- Collapsing and packing a pushchair in the car boot during the first six months of parenting.
- Breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby. As a dad.
- Staying awake long enough in hospital to get a sample from a dehydrated baby who has evacuated his bladder moments before being set said task by the doctor. (It took about seven hours for reference.)
- Assembling a travel cot/ tent.
- Remembering to switch the baby monitor off.
You get the gist.
There is, however, one task trickier than all of these tricky tasks combined. A task so tricky that it would win trickiest trick in the world trick-shot championships. So tricky that I blocked it from my mind after the last time that I attempted it, almost four years ago.
Last Friday – 8:15 am in the morning.
“Oh, and while you’re out you need to get the passport photos done.”
Taking a passport photo of a small child is like going to a gig as an average sized adult. After two hours, the only thing you’re actually ended up seeing is the top of someone’s head. And boy, does it get noisy.
Our littlest little person was a mere dot of a few months old last time I attempted this Herculean task. She was too young to sit up, so the process involved moving enough lamps to light Molineux into the dining room, laying her on an ironed (badly) white sheet, then trying to get her to look straight into a camera lens wobbling precariously above her head. It was a nightmare.
After what seemed like an eternity, a couple of ok-ish photos were obtained from the hundred or so still lifes titled “ear of recently rolled baby.” Cue half an hour of photoshopping creases out of the sheets, a trip to Boots the Chemist to print, and voila. Never. Again.
This time was going to be different. There was no tiny baby to shoot, so to speak, but a nearly two and three quarters year old. That can sit up. All by himself. And there’s a Photo-me-Quick booth at the top of the magic stairs in big Sainsburys. What could possibly go wrong?
If you’re contemplating doing this, don’t. In theory it should be easy. Get the little man to stand on the stool, adjust the height, line up the eyes, pop the money in, pull the curtain, press go and done. What could be easier?
First things first. The stool. It swivels. The first ten minutes were more painful than a Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers (one for the kids there) megamix of “Let’s Twist Again.” Having finally got the height right, I jam a French stick in to prevent further movement. We are ready.
Without thinking, I insert five pound coins into the machine. This is clearly not a job for a dad, but one for a two year old. Releasing the French stick once more, I quickly reach into the shopping bag for a snack to diffuse the situation before the security guard, who is showing a bit too much interest in the proceedings, arrives.
“OK. Stand still, pop your hands on your knees, and keep looking at my finger while the machine takes your photo.”
“And dont smile.”
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
Takes two to forty followed similar lines, but the biggest distraction was the flashing screen directly below the camera. Every time the shutter was about to click, the little fella would bend down to have a look what was on “telly.”
After about three quarters of an hour, we had achieved roughly;
- Nine smiley faces
- Six grumpy faces
- Twenty shots with no two year old in
- Four shots of the top of a two year old’s head
- One grumpy two year old
Shot 37 was different, however. It had a green tick on it. A tick to say that it “may” be suitable for use in a passport. Woohoo!!
I quickly pressed print, retrieved photos, child, shopping and baguette, and headed to playgroup, somewhere where we should have been half an hour earlier.
A couple of hours later, we arrive home and I present the photos for further forensic examination. That is, the ruler comes out.
“These are no good. His head is too big.”
Oh, blame me for our child’s large head why don’t you? Technically it is my fault (you should see the size of my noggin) but I can’t alter genetics. I’m not Peter Parker.
Two days later, I instigate Plan B. Which should, in hindsight, have been Plan A.
Child, stool or chair, enormous white wall or ironed (yes, ironed) white sheet, smartphone, wireless-fireless, printer, photo paper.
- Place stool against brightly lit white wall or wall with ironed sheet backdrop.
- Sit child on stool.
- Set smartphone to “burst mode.”
- Position phone so that child’s head fills about three quarters of the camera screen.
- Tap screen to focus.
- Hold the camera button down for ages and persuade child to look at phone using prefered distraction techniques.
- Repeat six to ten times.
- Give child a lolly and review photos.
- Find the one good one and delete the other five hundred or so.
- Edit the brightness, contrast, and warmth settings so that the photo looks natural and the wall is white again. (Don’t be put off as this is really easy on your phone – just move the sliders until it looks right.)
- Download a free app to make passport pictures (I used “Passport Photo ID Studio” on Android.)
- Follow simple instructions.
- Print on a sheet of photo paper.
Six lovely passport photos. (Well, four as I didn’t put the paper far enough into the printer. D’oh!)
If you’re contemplating getting passport photos of your child using a Photo-me-Quick booth, don’t. DIY. It’s the future. Right, dads?