How to Take an ID Picture that Doesn't Suck!

How to Take an ID Picture that Doesn't Suck!

If you drive, you know firsthand that the DMV is not the happiest place on earth. Brutal wait times and terrible overhead lighting can lead to even the most stunning person taking an awful ID photo. In the countless amount of ID pictures I've taken in my life, from school ID's to my passport photo, I've only taken one I truly like. I managed to take a nearly flawless photo, despite the odds against it, by researching why everyone takes bad ID pics. If you follow these steps, you can proudly show off your next ID card instead of trying to bury it in your wallet.

1. Make an appointment

This step can make or break an ID photo. If you schedule an appointment at least a few days ahead of time, you'll be able to plan accordingly and take your time. If you don't, you risk wasting a lot of time and energy waiting in line, which can negatively affect your photo through a sweaty face or just looking worn down. My worst ID photo happened because I lost my college ID right before turning in a file that required showing your ID. I had to run across campus, wait in line, and cough up 20 dollars all in 30 minutes, and you could see all of that on my face in the photo. 

2. Keep it matte

Skip highlighting, shimmery shadows, or lip gloss. The harsh flash from the camera will make you shine in a less than stellar way, so you don't want to contribute to the brightness. Instead, use matte colors for your eyes, cheeks, and lips. You can afford to be a bit heavy handed in your application because the photo will likely drain you of your natural color. It may be tempting to use setting powder to absorb excess oil, but powder may cause white flash back across your face. If you find yourself oily on the day of, use blotting sheets instead.

3. Wear something simple

The day your get an ID picture taken is not the day to bust out your favorite tie-dye shirt or tribal patterned blouse. Ditch loud prints and colors for more muted tones that will focus the attention on you rather than your top. Most ID backgrounds are a shade of blue, so choosing a warm color such as red or yellow will keep you from fading into the background.

4. Hair is important

My poor mother's last driver license photo was taken on a rainy day in the early 2000s, when hair flipped up at the bottom was the height of fashion. Needless to say, she hates it; from the frizziness to the new spikiness. Avoid my mom's mistake and keep your hairstyle classic. Put it in a high bun or ponytail to avoid looking like you have no hair at all, or wear it down and natural on both shoulders and out of your face. Don't pile up your hair on one side!

5. Find your light

Many people are inclined to tilt their chins up in photos, which you should avoid entirely while taking an ID photo. Tilt your chin a touch down to create a more defined jawline and allow the already harsh light to hit you without creating shadows. It will feel awkward, so practice it in the mirror a few times before the day of your photo.

6. Smize!

Another tactic to practice in the mirror is smizing. A toothy smile and wide eyes are awesome for candid photos, but your ID picture should be a bit more serious. Smile with your mouth closed and tighten your eyes around your temples for a smoldering look that will make you want to keep your ID picture for the rest of your life.

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