The Quest for the Perfect Driver’s License Photo

This year I had to renew my driver’s license. I put off renewing my license because the last time I did (8 years ago) I had a mortifying experience getting my picture taken. The young man handling the camera had me stand on a taped X on the floor and told me to smile. I smiled, the camera flashed and then the unexpected happened.

Young man: “Oh.”
Me: “What?
Young man: “We are going to have to take this one again.
Me: “What?
Young man: “Your picture is not good.

How bad does your picture have to be for the driver’s license guy to do a retake? I was embarrassed but thankful to get a second chance at a better picture. As the camera flashed again I tried to look beautiful. The second picture was okay and I lived with it for 8 long years.

This year, I waited until the day before my birthday to go in because I am a procrastinator and I really, really did not want my photo taken. To prepare, I tried some new eye firming cream the night before. The morning of the big day I woke up with one eye swollen shut and the other eye inflamed. I have sensitive skin and the industrial strength eye cream caused a major reaction. Cold eye compresses helped but did not eliminate the puffiness. As the puffiness receded the wrinkles were more pronounced. This could not be happening! I decided I was not going to get my picture taken that day.

The next day, my birthday, my license was expiring and I absolutely had to go in and get my picture taken. While the damage was reduced, I have old skin and it takes a few days for my skin to return to its normal wrinkled self. Not having a few days to wait I decided to return to the cosmetic counter and find another solution. I purchased Sudden Change Eye Firming Serum. It guaranteed it would lift and tighten under eye problems so I would look younger in three minutes. This was too good to be true. I bought it anyway.

Sitting in my car in the parking lot, I opened the package and placed two drops of serum under each eye. The directions said that you must keep your face still and should not frown or smile until completely dry. This seemed ridiculous but I sat without an expression as I felt a tightening and miraculously the puffiness and lines were disappearing. I was so happy with the transformation I applied the serum to my mouth and forehead area and then raced to the motor vehicle registration office.

Once there, I took a number and waited in a long line. When my name was called I stood on the X on the floor, the camera flashed and the woman taking my picture shook her head and said “Oh. You look like a deer in the headlights.” She made a tsking sound and said, “We will have to try that again.

Once again I was mortified. How many people does this happen to twice? I asked her, “What should I do?” She  said, “Relax.” I would have liked to relax and look more animated for my second photo but unfortunately my face was frozen in an un-moveable mask from the serum. Whether I was ready or not, my picture was taken again and the lady pronounced, “That’s better.”

Now I have a new driver’s license photo I get to live with for the next eight years. My only consolation, I will be 8 years older when I have to do this again and hopefully, by then, I just won’t care.

A couple of weeks after renewing my license I had my passport photo taken but that is a story for another day.


25 thoughts on “The Quest for the Perfect Driver’s License Photo”

  1. I believe that they make special cameras for drivers license and passport photos. Warped people have somehow managed to have them bring out the worst in each and every person who stands before them and says “cheese.” Of course, you’re not allowed to smile any more. We’re all going to look like those folks in the antique photos from the 1860s. A nation of people with tight underwear.

    1. I know! It is so true that the antique photos of old are the driver’s license photos of today. I was told not to smile, which I couldn’t do anyway because of all the serum. I want a Jane Jetson mask!

  2. I’ve reached the point in my life where I’ve had to convince myself that wrinkles are beautiful. Otherwise, I would have run screaming off the nearest bridge a long time ago. Great post!! Love your blog!

    1. I would embrace my wrinkles more but in 7th grade I played an old woman in a school play. To make me look old the director placed brown frown and wrinkle lines on my face. I remember thinking no way would I ever have lines in all those places. Now I do. I love my laugh line wrinkles. The others I could do without!

  3. In Connecticut, we get licensed for six years. I had my photo taken 2 years ago. The lady who snapped my picture was my age. I said to her that she should take a really nice picture of me, so that when I am sixty-four and still using this picture, I’ll look amazing because of her. And she liked that idea, and took a great shot!

  4. Excellent post. I recall trying to pass off my old passport photos when it had expired. Somehow the guarantor did not recognize “me” and could not sign the ‘new’ photos. Besides a much longer hair style and a line-free face, well, you get the picture.
    and NOW Canadian passport photos not only make you not smile but you HAVE to expose your ears, no matter the hairstyle. YIKES! you do realize that one’s ears and nose never stop growing right? yup, my hair is thinning and my ears are growing and all in all……I LOOK not like a terrorist but a TERRIFYER!

  5. RVGirl is my sister, Helen, who lives in Bermuda! I see we like the same bloggers.

    I once had a photo taken for my teacher’s ID and it was so good (surprisingly) that I used it from then until I retired even though we got a new one each year.

  6. After a story like that, I think you’re going to have to share that photo!

    I just had my driver’s license renewed too. In Michigan they let you look at the photo and give you the option to try another one if you need to. Mine wasn’t too bad so I went with it – after all, the second try might have been worse. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of trying anything creative like eye cream the night before. What was I thinking? No funny story to share afterwards.

  7. There should be a law that allows us final approval of any photographic image that we will be stuck with for years and years. My passport just expired and the only thing stopping me from renewing it is the dreaded photo. I keep thinking, my face will be thinner if I just lose five more pounds. Yikes!

  8. This is so funny! And it sounds like just the kind of thing I would do. How often I have attempted to “fix” some problem, and in the end, just wished I could go back to the problem I started with instead of my newly enlarged version, thanks to my own careful efforts!

    But hey, sounds like that eye serum is a keeper!
    Thanks for the laughter! ~ Sheila

  9. My license renewal just arrived — and I don’t have to get a new picture taken! I am going to stop complaining about the Commonwealth of Virginia.


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