A foolproof trick to take a good driver’s license photo

January 16, 2017 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Like most of us, I believe myself to be the queen of crappy ID card photos. I could never take a decent photo for a driver’s license, ID card, or passport to save my life.

When I was 16 and got my first driver’s license photo I spent 10 minutes fixing my hair in front of the DMV mirror to get it just right. I smiled into the mirror and froze my facial muscles into that perfect smile as I slowly inched to the chair, carefully lowering myself into the seat without creating any breezes that could move my hair. I looked into the camera with my perfectly practiced smile. Suddenly the woman operating the camera stepped away from it. “Hang on, I need to grab something,” she said, and disappeared. I held my perfect smile as long as I could, but she didn’t seem to be coming back any time soon so I relaxed and looked around. I noticed my shoelace was untied. With no sign of the camera lady showing up anytime soon I bent over and tied my shoe. Three seconds into shoe tying and I hear a “hey- look up” come from the camera. *FLASH* And there it was. My first driver’s license photo: my head at the bottom of the frame, half bent over, with a dopey look of shock on my face.  Since I don’t have that license anymore, here’s an approximate recreation:

My second attempt about 10 years later wasn’t much better. There was a long line so I again spent some time in front of the DMV mirror, but this time practicing a half squint in one eye. My right eye is just slightly bigger than my left, which you don’t really notice in person but in a photo it can be pretty obvious. So I practiced closing my right eye juuuuuuuust a little bit so they were the same size. I even tested myself by looking away from the mirror, half squinted my big eye, then turned to the mirror to make sure I did it right. When they called my name for my photo I sat in the chair, smiled at the camera, lightly squinted my right eye and then *FLASH* There it was. A photo of me winking.  Again, here’s a recreation:

For my third driver’s license photo I said “the hell with it,” and didn’t prepare at all: I just sat down and smiled. It was the best ID photo I’d ever taken. The curse was broken.

I recently changed my last name after getting married and again had to get a new driver’s license photo. Upon great personal reflection, my past experiences at the DMV had taught me two important truths:

  1. People operating the camera at the DMV don’t give a rat’s behind what you look like and will snap a photo as soon as your butt is planted in that seat and your face is front and center.
  2. Any special tricks you attempt to fool the DMV camera of doom are futile. It is immune to smizing.

So I got a new foolproof strategy for this last time around. Are you ready? Here it is:

Don’t look at the camera until you’re ready.

I realized that the DMV folks won’t take the photo until you’re looking up at the camera and your eyes are open, because those are pretty much the only two requirements for a driver’s license photo. So I sat down with my head bent over and fixed my hair until I was sure it looked okay and wasn’t sticking up all over the place. Then I smiled naturally and as friendly as I could make it look, still facing my lap, and then finally looked up at the camera when I was ready.

So that’s my super secret trick: when you sit in the chair, keep your head down or turned to the side while getting your hair in place (use a hand mirror if you’d like) and don’t look at the camera and smile until you’re ready.

And while we’re at it, here are some other general tips:

  • Avoid shimmery makeup—it will reflect the light of the flash and wash our your face.
  • If you have longer hair, try to place it evenly on both shoulders so it frames your face.
  • Don’t wear stark white or black, or anything with logos or patterns that are really busy.
  • If you’re having the picture taken in the winter, make sure you remove your coat, scarf, and hat.
  • Smile! So it doesn’t look like a mugshot. This might be the photo the news uses when you save drowning puppies from a lake so make sure you look friendly and not like a convict.
  • If you can, go to the DMV during a time of the day when they’re less busy, or even a DMV in a smaller town so you can have more time to prepare and don’t feel too rushed.
  • Remember to be nice to the people working at the DMV. They have a reputation for being crotchety, so if you’re extra nice to them they might return the favor and let you take a little extra time to refresh your lipstick before you photo.

And for tips on how to take a great headshot for your professional headshot with Organic Headshots, head here!

4 ways to use a new headshot to win at your New Year’s resolution

January 3, 2017 Published by . Leave your thoughts

It’s January.  A new year.  And time to make those infamous New Year’s resolutions.  For some people, getting an updated headshot is actually your resolution: to log into LinkedIn and finally replace that icon that’s just an outline of a head with your actual head, or to finally have something better and more professional than your wedding photo cropped reeeeaaaaaalllly tightly so no one will see the veil on your head.

But if your New Year’s resolution isn’t to get a new headshot, you can still use a headshot as a tool to help you reach your goals.  Here are a few ways a new headshot can help you kick some resolution butt:

    1. Get fit: Is this year’s resolution to lose those few extra pounds?  Schedule your headshot session for several months in advance to give yourself a goal to work toward.  Several years ago we got a call from a man who wanted to lose 50 pounds before updating his headshot, so he booked a session with us 6 months in advance.  He even pre-paid for the session so he would stick to his goal of losing the weight before his picture day.  And it worked!  6 months and 1 week later he was 50 pounds slimmer and getting awesome new headshots.  (The extra week was because he had to reschedule to give himself enough time to buy a new suit since the old one didn’t fit!)


    1. Get a new job: Been thinking about starting a job search but the idea is daunting?  Take baby steps and start with a new professional headshot to update your LinkedIn profile.  Once you’ve got your new profile photo, you can update your work experience, goals, and other details on LinkedIn while you’re logged in.


    1. Quit smoking: Smoking adds lines and wrinkles, sucks moisture out of the skin, yellows teeth and darkens circles under the eyes.  It’s a well-known fact that quitting smoking improves your appearance—check out this woman’s week-by-week account of how her appearance changed after quitting smoking.  If you need that extra push to quit smoking, schedule your headshot in advance and use it as your deadline to be smoke free and camera ready.


  1. Get a new look: Have you been thinking about changing your look by getting a new hairstyle or a new wardrobe?  Schedule a headshot session to make the process more fun.  A celebratory photo session to introduce the new you to the world!