Photo shoot – government style!


Notice they stopped putting hair color on the license.

Yesterday was the day. I had to get my photo taken to renew my driver’s license. Ach!

In our state, we renew every four years. I hate it. Each successive picture shows an older person. (Yes, I know that’s better than the alternative.)

No one really sees my photo ID except medical personnel. I can probably thank Homeland Security for that!

I haven’t needed ID for bar visits in decades. Lots of decades.

Our local license office gets extremely busy. They advise you to stay away from the first of the month or the last few days of the month. Not sure why because our licenses expire on our birthday.

It is run by the government so there must be a good reason. Or maybe not.

The cameras aren’t great but are better than BJ Wholesale Club. My photo membership card from BJ’s looks like a war refugee circa 1910. All I need is a babushka! (Annie Leibovitz where are you?)

I try to look good. I use makeup (lots of it) so I don’t wash out. I could join a clown club afterwards. Don’t laugh. This technique has worked for me.

Taking a person’s picture brings out the crazy in anyone and the staff rolls with it. (No, not me! I just don’t care that much. At least anymore.)

On my last visit, a young woman was in front of me. To be truthful I would call her a girl. Her boyfriend accompanied her and she giggled the entire time (except when she saw her photo).

She was appalled and had it retaken four times. She wanted it Photoshopped. (Seriously, this is not for a modeling gig. No one important sees the ID. Bar bouncers are not important!)

On this trip the guy in front of me, who had to be at least 70, asked for a second take. He was much happier with the second but it looked the same to me.

I sit in the chair; ask the person to make me laugh so it’s natural; and accept the first shot. Unless I close my eyes (which I didn’t) another shot isn’t going to make me look different or younger or better.

Today the previewer showed a picture of a person looking like me but the face was distorted — wider than it was long. What the heck? I considered having a second shot taken for a nanosecond. It’s not going on my holiday card so it doesn’t matter.

When the license printed out, my face was normal-sized and the shot was good for that sort of thing. It looks better than my last one.

I brought it home and compared it with the last three and the only difference was my hair length. (Remind me not to get my hair cut short. It’s not an attractive look for me.)

Putting the last four pictures together, I asked the beloved husband to put in age order. He couldn’t. (He’s either very diplomatic, very myopic or just plain wonderful. Any of those work for me.)

That’s the best I can ask for. If each successive four-year photo looks as good as or better than the last, I’ll be a happy camper.

*Note: I tried to copy my license photo for illustration but there are is a security watermark (or more technically called ‘thinger’) that prevent it from looking clear. Probably a good thing.*

35 thoughts on “Photo shoot – government style!

  1. You made me laugh, Kate. I had one driver’s license photo taken years ago that I just loved. They even let me smile and look like I was about to laugh. Years ago, when I worked at Syracuse University, my photo ID made me look like a drug lord. It was not a good look. Yes, there should be photo shop for that. I don’t care who looks at it. 😉


  2. I think we renew every five years here in Washington, but that’s just a guess. Last time I had my photo taken at the DMV, the employee insisted on taking three photos. She thought I looked strange or something. I thought I looked normal. She wasn’t satisfied with #3, but she decided to stop there. I don’t know why she thought I looked strange. Maybe she wanted me to wear makeup, but seldom bother.


  3. My birthday is in early January so, the last time I had to get my picture taken, I thought I’d be cleaver and go to the DMV on New Year’s Eve because NO ONE WOULD GO THERE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE, right? Wrong! I guess, unlike me who was trying to get a jump on things, everyone else in the city had waited until the last minute to get their DMV business done. My picture shows a stressed-out crazy person who stood in line for an hour. I guess better then the pin-head who is on the back of my Costco card.


  4. For many years I have avoided all cameras. I look psychotic in photos — a great look on a drivers’ license! But I recently gave up. I yam what I yam …

    Good for you that your photos are not easily ordered! Or good for your husband!


  5. Oh Kate…I had to renew my license last month. I tried to go when I thought it would be the least crowded…what a joke! I was waaay back in the line (which was very long) but it moved fairly well. All of us noticed that the clerks rotated for pit/rest breaks…which made us wait a bit longer. Oh well, when you gotta’ go, you gotta’ go! Each of them had on a cute Christmas something…one had on a set of reindeer antlers…! Next? Oh, that would be me!
    Yikes…I’d dropped my form somewhere and it was not in my clammy hand…the clerk was the best ever…she left her station…went out amongst the crowd and found it. Took my picture and surprised me with “Hey, this is a very good picture”! Really, you gotta’ be kiddin’ me. My government ID looks like I’m in prison. Sure ’nuff…my new license photo is the best I’ve ever had anywhere. Woohoo…what a treat. (Maybe I’ll wear it around my neck). I asked her about the long lines…she told me they’re like that 5 days per week…all day. Never a break. Thank God, they’re valid for six years…next time I’ll be 90. Oh brother!


    • I was lucky. We have three places locally where we can take photos. I go to the one nearest me. There is a “full service” DMV a little farther but they do driver tests and license problems and everything else. There you can wait for hours. The cameras they use today are much better than the ones from 20 years ago. You were lucky to have a good tech. One time I had one that looked at my picture and didn’t even show me. She said, “Oh honey, we gotta take another picture and you have to smile!”


    • I find it to be a hassle usually. Yesterday’s was the exception. The cameras used locally aren’t bad. They don’t give those super washed out, flat images like some of the membership cameras. This picture is better than the photo I used for my passport. As you say, who really cares? No one sees these things except for the occasional need for ID.


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