How to Take a Good Driver’s License Photo

illustration of drivers license photo with joyful expression

Getting your driver’s license is an exciting and proud moment for all of us.

There’s no better way to solidify and show the world that you passed your driver’s test. You are able to drive your friends to the club or go by yourself without taking the Uber for some me-time.

However, we all know that one person is usually complaining about how awful they look on their driving license’s photo. This photo will stay with you for the next 5 – 10 years. So, you should have a photo you won’t regret later.

Fortunately, you don’t have to have a terrible photo for your driver’s license.

In this article, I’ll discuss 7 tips on getting a great driver’s photo that will stand the test of time.

1. Have a good night’s rest

Before we start getting into some practical, hands-on tips here’s some general advice.

Be sure to have a good night’s sleep the day before you take your driver’s license photo. You will be grateful you did so as being well-rested will make you look fresh and energized.

2. Take note of how you dress

Your dressing is going to be crucial for when you go to get your photo done.

Here are some points to keep in mind when choosing your outfit:

  • Avoid wearing black or white this is because they usually blend in with the background or end up making you look pale.
  • Go for softer colors such as blue, pink or grey. Pastels are also a great color choice as they are easy on the eyes and match well with most skin tones.
  • You should avoid wearing any shirts or dresses that include slogans, complex/abstract patterns or pictures. They are distracting and would look odd when getting your driver’s license photo done.
  • Since the picture is going to be taken from the chest or neck up, it doesn’t matter what you wear below the waist. You can wear pants, skirt or shorts anything that makes you comfortable.

3. Keep some eye drops

If you are feeling tired, having a cold, or your allergies are acting up, it will be helpful to keep some eye drops with you.

  • If you are getting your driver’s license photo during allergy season you should use some eye drops. This will help get rid of those red, blood-shot eyes in your photo.
  • If you are struggling to keep your eyes wide it might be due to your eyes dehydrating. Moisturize them with some eye drops so you are comfortable keeping your eyes open for the photo.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep before the day the photo will be taken. If you did however stay up late at night try using some eye drops to get rid of that tired, grumpy look.

4. Tidy up your hair

Your hair is going to be in the limelight for your driver’s license photo so you need to make sure it looks its best.

  • Brush your hair keeping them neat and tidy.
  • It is best to style your hair the way you normally would so that it resonates with you. Sure you might change up your style after getting the photo done but normally most people, especially men, tend to keep the same hairstyle for a long time.
  • A common mistake for most women is that they put all their loose hair in front of one shoulder. This style might suit you but when getting your photo taken you should avoid this. Having your hair placed like this will hide your neck and shoulders making your proportions look off and the resulting photo would look odd.
  • Make sure your hair is not hanging in front of your eyes as they have to be visible at all times.

5. Avoid too much makeup

Avoid applying too much makeup for your driver’s license photo or it might cause some issues:

  • Your driver’s license photo is a professional shot so there is no need to add anything more than just some light make-up. The “No-makeup” look works well as it is simple and not too fancy.
  • Avoid glitter at all costs. The shimmer from the glitter will reflect the light and cause it to wash your face.
  • Make sure to look your normal self. This means no eye shadows, red lipstick or cat-eyes.

6. Smile! But not too much

When you get your photo taken for your driver’s license you might be advised not to smile. However, this depends on the DMV and the person taking your photo.

  • If you live in a country where they don’t allow smiling for your driver’s license photo it is best to have a friendly-expression on your face rather than a serious grumpy look.
  • You can smile for your photo but don’t flash all 32 teeth, rather maintain a light smile just enough to feel welcoming.
  • Model Tyra Banks popularized the term “smize” which is when you curl your lips slightly and “smile with your eyes.” Take a few practice shots for the big day.

7. Wear your glasses

It is important to wear your eyeglasses when taking your photo if you wear them normally.

  • If you are legally required to wear glasses when driving you need to have them on when taking your driver’s license photo.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear clear, transparent ones and avoid colored ones (even if you wear them often).
  • Avoid wearing sunglasses as they hide your face and eyes. If you have them on or rest them on top of your shirt you will be required to remove them.


Driver’s license photos don’t always have to look bad and there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance. By following these tips, you’ll be happy with the photo you end up with inside your wallet and won’t even mind showing it to your friends and family.

If you plan on renewing your driver’s license photo you can also send a digital photo. You can edit your photo according to the guidelines set by your DMV using BunnyPic our free online editing tool.

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