What is it about driver license pictures that always turn out bad?
Not to criticize the picture taker at the DMV, but is it impossible to get a decent picture to go on one’s license? After all, we have to tote these pictures around with us for over a decade and show them as our means of ID. It isn’t like a bad picture you can just throw away or hide deep in the family album. This is a picture we are required to carry with us and show to strangers to prove we are who we say we are.
For a decade or more, I’d carried a license with a picture I had gotten used to. I’d guess the picture was at least 10 years old if not 15. I’ve changed a little since then but was still easily recognizable by my old driver license picture. However, the state requires you to have a new picture taken every so often so I head over to the local DMV just before my 50th birthday.
Unlike most days, I take time to make sure my hair is halfway decent and I even wear a nice shirt. I realize this picture is going to follow me around for a decade or more. I do one more last look in the mirror and, aside from my crazy hair which I have no control over, everything looks fine. Therefore, once I’m there, I feel confident I should take a decent picture. Provided I don’t have my eyes closed or a goofy look on my face, it should be fine.
After filling out paperwork, I’m called to step in front of the camera. I look into the little lens and moments later the die is cast. It just so happens a friend of mine works there and she steps behind the officer who took my picture and a look suddenly comes over her face.
“No!” she exclaims as she looks at the picture.
Now the word “no” is not something you want to hear exclaimed when it comes to your driver license picture. The last time I had a professional exclaim the word “no” in front of me, I ended up having to have a root canal, so, as you can guess, her exclamation made me feel a little uneasy.
“No?” I say. “What do you mean?”
She continues shaking her head, looking at the screen. “I don’t like it. Take another one,” she says in no uncertain terms.
“He’ll like it,” the officer who took the picture says. “He’s an author. It makes him look all serious like an author.”
Moments later I’m handed the temporary license. At first blush, I do seem to be a bit serious looking but nothing over the top. I thank them and head out to the car. That’s where I notice something that I hadn’t noticed before – I have jowls. Yes, it looks like I have jowls, which I don’t. Now, for the next decade I’m toting a license that makes make look like I have a fat neck.
The issue is that at 6-foot-2, I had to look down at the camera and it made my neck look all squished giving it that jowl look. The camera must be set up for short people or something.
Why can’t we have glamor shots when it comes to driver licenses?
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.