Part of the charm of a baby is their ever-changing expressions, poses, and gestures. Just scroll through a new parent’s photo roll on their cell phone to get an idea of the very many adorable moments they can capture throughout the day. But all that delightful modeling that comes so naturally to babies and toddlers has one very specific drawback: passport photos. If you’ve traveled internationally with your young kid, you may be familiar with the trials and tribulations of getting a passport photo of them that will also meet the government standards.
While the U.S. State Department relaxes some of their passport photo guidelines for the youngest travelers (an infant’s eyes don’t have to be open in the photo, for example) it can still be a daunting task to get a focused, head-on shot of a baby. Which is why we stopped, laughed, and then admired the ingenuity of this Instagram post.
Originally posted by Instagram account Sincerely Momsy, the original source is unknown. But it’s pretty easy to deduce what is going on: A baby is being held by a person concealed by a fitted sheet, giving the baby a regulation-friendly photo alone against a solid-colored backdrop, facing forward. The concealed adult, meanwhile, can help provide some guidance and support to the baby. And voila, a baby who is ready to hit the road with his or her very own passport.
And while we don’t know what inspired the original photographer, it does bring to mind a very different reason parents used to conceal themselves during photographs: exposure time. Back in the day (read: Victorian Era), when subjects would have to sit still for as long as 30 seconds, photographers and mothers got inventive with ways to get babies alone in photographs. The result is what is now known as “hidden mother photographs.” Creepy, right? Mothers would sometimes be partially concealed by a curtain, or simply draped in fabric, in order to get a picture of a toddler or baby “alone.” While the results look strange and almost sinister to our 21st-century eyes, it’s another example of the many ways parents have used a bit of ingenuity in the ever-challenging face of parenthood.