After a recent two-hour sit at the DMV, I watched most people leaving bitter and complaining about the photo on their new driver's licence. This reaction to a bad photo isn't surprising, considering you have to live with it for years. These days, you've got to show your driver's license just about every time you use a credit card or fill a prescription. People have commented I always take a good driver's licence photo. There's a trick to it and today I will detail the steps I take to get a good pic.
1. Wear nice clothes.—When I go in for a new driver's license, it seems most of the other people I see arrive wearing old beat up sweatshirts, ripped pants and tee shirts. How can they expect to feel good about their appearance while wearing stuff that looks like it was pulled out of the hamper?
They say clothes make the man. Well, there's something to that. Not that the camera will pick up your outfit, it won't. But there's a confident feeling of "I look good" when you wear nice clothes that the end photo will reveal. Wear something nice. You'll feel better about your appearance and the picture will reflect that.
2. Ditch the hat and sunglasses.—Think you'll be able to cover up a bad hair day or Tequila reddened-eyes? Think again. They won't let you take a driver's license photo with a hat or sunglasses on. Leave those items behind and avoid "hat head." Speaking of...
3. Brush your hair.—I almost laughed out loud at the people who acted surprised when the camera person sat them down for a picture. "You mean I am getting my photo NOW? I didn't bring my brush."
As if the photographer's response would be "Oh no, you are a special case. Since you look like your hair was used as part of an engine tune up, you can just mail us a glamour shot when it's convenient."
Note to self: If you pass the drivers licence test, yes you will get your picture taken that same day. So bring a brush, comb or just fix your hair before you leave the house.
4. Open your eyes.—They won't shoot a photo of you if your eyes are squinting or closed. So plan on having your eyes open. You want to know this ahead of time because as soon as the photographer says "Open your eyes" you'll contort your face. That's the precise second she'll snap your photo. Welcome to four to eight years of looking as if you just found out that person you've been dating is your long lost cousin.
Plan on opening your eyes and looking into the camera.
5. Smile.—This is going to be tough. The DMV is unpleasant for most of us. It's drab and people are angry. You are going to need to think happy thoughts and smile wide. I suggest exaggerating your smile a little. Otherwise, the basic camera shot might make it look like aren't smiling.
Think of anything better than being at the DMV, like your favourite vacation locale, your favourite hobby or nuclear war. Whatever works.
6. Be nice to DMV personnel.—DMV employees are not the happiest people in the world. They have to deal with unhappy and irritated people all day long. If you can be refreshingly pleasant and treat the photographer nicely, she'll be more likely take that extra second to make sure you don't look like your face should be on a wanted poster.
So ask the photographer how her day is going. She'll probably want to tell you it sucks, but she'll be happy you asked. And you'll be happy you have a nice driver's licence photo.
That's about it. Armed with these keys, your driver's licence photo will look less like a mugshot and more like a happy, confident you. How did your driver's licence photo come out? What did you do to make it better (or worse)? Tell us about it in the comments.