Improve Your State Driver’s License Picture

When it comes to driver’s license pictures, many people cringe at the thought. There are not many hard rules about taking your license or ID photo.

In many states, the only requirement is that you look at the camera and have your eyes open. Unfortunately, that alone does not guarantee a flattering photo. The bright flash in particular presents several potential problems that lead to a less-than-great picture.

Tips to Improve Your DMV Photo

While it is possible to take a new driver’s license photo at renewal, you don’t want to get stuck with a bad one until then. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to prepare in advance for picture day. Simple tips, such as getting enough rest the night before and pinning your hair back, can dramatically affect your picture. With this in mind, read the following tips to make sure you are photo-ready!

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. It’s important to get plenty of rest in general, but it is especially crucial to do so the night before you head to the DMV for an ID photo. Lack of sleep often shows on your face in the form of dark bags under your eyes. Unfortunately, the flash will highlight this and make the rest of your face look pale in comparison. To reduce the appearance bags under your eyes, you should make sure to get six to eight hours of sleep the night before taking the photo. This will also help you feel refreshed and ready for your driver’s test, if you need to take one. Eye drops and under-eye makeup are quick-fix solutions that anyone can use to help reduce a tired look.
  2. Choose the right outfit. When you are planning to get an ID card or license, it’s a good idea to plan out your outfit beforehand. The right outfit is one that is comfortable and simple. Try to avoid complex patterns or colors like black and white. White or pale colors often make clothing blend into the background used for photographs. If you have a fair skin color and wear dark or black clothing, you may appear washed out in the picture. To be on the safe side, opt for shirts or blouses in soft, solid colors.
  3. Wear contacts instead of glasses, if you have any. In some cases, the DMV office requires you to wear glasses in the photo if you need them to drive. Alternatively, some DMV representatives ask you to remove them because the harsh flash can create a glare in your photo. If you have contact lenses as well as glasses, plan to wear those during your visit instead. However, avoid wearing contacts that alter your eye color. It’s important that your eyes match the natural color identified on your new drivers license for proper identification.
  4. Go light on the makeup. Makeup is a useful tool that can help you look and feel your best for your license photo. On the other hand, wearing certain types of makeup in your picture can have the opposite effect. For one, heavy makeup has a tendency to smudge or run, especially if it isn’t waterproof. You also want to avoid shimmery eyeshadows and similar items, as the bright camera flash will reflect and make your face look washed out or oily.
  5. Pull your hair out of your face. On your driver’s license, your hair style can make or break your photo. Since your hair frames your face, it’s important to keep it tidy and out of the way for several reasons. First, the point of a photo ID is to provide a clear image of your face for identification purposes. Your eyes need to be completely visible in order to meet DMV standards. Furthermore, having hair in your face can create shadows from the flash, which affects the quality of the picture. Make sure to comb your hair first, and consider using simple hair clips to keep it in place.
  6. Find a good angle. In driver’s license pictures, you are usually instructed not to tilt your head to either side. Consequently, it is more difficult to utilize your “good side,” while looking straight into the camera. To get around this, practice finding the right angle for your face in the mirror. Elongate your neck and lean forward just enough to get the most flattering position. It’s also important to maintain strong posture for your ID card. Leaning forward too far or slouching in your photo can create a more unflattering angle. Make sure to stand up straight and only lean forward slightly in the picture.
  7. Reduce shine on your face. If you’re worried about looking a little shiny in your driver’s license photo, there are a few solutions. One easy quick fix is to carry a few blotting papers with you. Blotting papers are disposable wipes designed to soak up excess facial oil. Alternately, applying a clear setting powder during your makeup routine has a similar effect.
  8. Have a friendly, neutral expression. It might seem intuitive to smile for your photo, but in reality DMV representatives usually ask you not to. Many ID photos are now entered into a database that is used to combat identity fraud. The system uses facial recognition technology to do this, which requires a neutral expression. However, that doesn’t mean you have to frown or scowl for your picture. Try a faint, closed-mouth smile and relax your eyes for a natural, pleasant expression.
  9. Don’t sweat it. At the end of the day, a less-than-flattering license photo is not the end of the world. In fact, the more you worry about it beforehand, the more likely you are to appear stiff and uncomfortable. During the driver’s license renewal, you can ask to take a new picture if you complete the transaction in person. If your DMV location is not too crowded during your initial appointment, some representatives may allow you to retake the photo if you are unhappy with the results. The most important idea to keep in mind is to relax. Incorporate all or even some of these tips and you are sure to have a photo worth showing off.