waiting for drivers license photo at dmv

Tips for Taking a Good Driver's License Photo

It's a running joke, except it's not that funny if you're the one in the photo: driver's license photos, shall we say, don't always catch the driver's good side. It's especially unfortunate considering that this photo goes everywhere with you for years, revealing itself to restaurant servers, airline agents, and (hopefully not) police officers, until you get the opportunity to renew your license and take another mediocre-to-bad photo. How is it that the bad driver's license photo is a universal phenomenon?

It doesn't have to be that way. It's possible to get a better photo, or even a good one that you're proud to show. This is how:

Wear Your Best Colors

Take care in choosing your wardrobe. When you look good, you feel good, so pick out a shirt in a flattering color and style. Even though you'll only see the very top of the shirt in the photo, dress from head to toe in a way that makes you feel good and carry yourself proudly. The confidence will shine through in the photo.

Speaking of clothing and accessories, keep in mind that if you wear glasses to drive, you should also wear glasses in your driver's license photo. The exception, of course, is sunglasses, which won't be allowed in your picture. (Neither will hats, so don't count on hiding a bad hair day under that cap!) Your eye color in the photo needs to match what is written on the license, so you should also avoid wearing colored contacts.

Fix Your Hair

This can make a huge difference in how you look and feel. You could even schedule a haircut in the morning before your trip to the DMV so you can show up for your driver's license photo with perfectly styled hair. (Just make sure you've been to this barber or stylist before so you don't end up with any surprises.)

Glance in the Mirror Before You Take the Picture

Make sure your hair isn't flying around and that you don't have anything in your teeth.

Think of Something Funny

While you're waiting in line at the DMV, watch funny videos or read a funny book. As you step in front of the camera, think of your favorite parts or of something great that happened with your friends. Each state has slightly different driver's license requirements, and some states don't allow you to smile in your photo, but having happy thoughts in your head will give your face a friendly, photogenic expression.

Ask for a Do-Over

Yes, you can do this! If you really dislike the picture, ask the person to take it again. Keep that in mind, and it might help you relax enough to get a good picture the first time, anyway. And if not, that second opportunity is usually enough to correct whatever you didn't like about the first one.

Don't Take it Too Seriously

In the end, it's just a driver's license photo. Don't stress about getting it perfect. Just be yourself and take the picture. If it's not as great as you want it to be, you'll get another opportunity in a few years. And chances are, you're the harshest judge, anyway! It's probably better than you think.

Being a new driver can be nerve-racking as it is, so don't let your driver's license photo experience add to the anxiety. Do what you can to make the experience of getting your license as easy as possible. Start by visiting your state's DMV website to learn more about the process of getting your license. Then take a driver's education course, pass your test, and follow these tips to get a great driver's license photo.

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