Do you hate your ID photos? Many of us do.
We all have to have photos taken for identification purposes, such as driver's licenses, passports, school IDs, security cards, etc. Most of the time these photos are not flattering and barely look like what you see when you look in the mirror. Somehow these photos seem to make our faces look flat, washed-out and because ID photos need to show you unsmiling and without glasses, you'd perhaps look better photographed when you first woke up in the morning so you look more like yourself!
I have some tips for you to keep in mind the next time you have to have your photo taken for a passport or work ID, you might actually like your photo, or at least not mind it so much. And you won't worry about being arrested at the airport for looking like a criminal in your passport photo.
This is my provincial health card. My photo was taken at the office, standing in front of a blank screen and with a blinding flash with barely a moment to compose myself. It's a mug shot, but it's in colour, rather oddly tinted pink and red.
It's not a fantastic photo of me, but it's not terrible. I knew I was going to have my photo taken and having learned my lesson from previous ID photos, I made sure to use some makeup tricks to try to make my photo less unflattering.
- Wear lipstick, or a tinted lip balm, or just a regular lip balm. It will give your lips some natural colour and sheen. This is ideal in a colour photo, but in a B&W photo it'll have a positive effect too. Just don't wear a dramatic lipstick colour. Try to keep it as natural as possible
- Avoid really shiny lipglosses.
- Apply blush or bronzer to give your skin some colour. Even if the photos are in B&W, your skin will have some dimension and look a little more luminous.
- Contour: If you're confident about contouring, define your cheekbones and jawline. This will help make your face look more three-dimensional under a bright flash.
- Define your eyes. A thin line of a dark colour along your upper lashline will make your lashes look fuller and also, help your eyes to stand out against a bright flash. If you use a colour that enhances your eye colour, this can help your eyes stand out in colour photos.
- Blue eyes - burgundy.
- Green eyes - dark orange-brown.
- Brown eyes - dark purple.
- Hazel eyes - golden-brown.
- Grey eyes - dark green.
- Define your eyebrows. This falls into the contouring category. Well-shaped and groomed brows give your face a great deal of definition and shouldn't be neglected. At the very least, use a brow comb to brush the brow hairs up and towards the outside of your face. If the hairs are long, comb through with a brow gel to keep them in place.
There are also some non-makeup tips for taking better ID photos (men can use these too!):
- Posture. Even if the photo is head and shoulders only, standing up straight will make you look better in the photo. Pull your shoulders down and back and lift your chin slightly. Imagine an ice cube melting down your spine.
- If possible, wear a flattering neckline and simple jewellery. Take off any outerwear like jackets or scarves. Simple is better, not to mention that wearing a winter coat inside while waiting in line can make you sweaty.
- Smize! What's this? It's smiling with your eyes. Try it in the mirror. Smile without using your mouth. Try to capture an expression using your eyes only. Look in the mirror and smile like you normally would. Then relax your mouth but not the rest of the face. It's a lifting feeling in the outer eye area. Practice. You might not be trying to sell anything when you have your ID photo taken but you will look better in your photo if you don't have a dead stare.
- Wearing a shirt in a colour that flatters your complexion will give you a natural glow. This won't translate in a B&W photo, unfortunately.
- Think happy thoughts and allow them to lift your face into a non-glowery expression.
- Relax, as much as possible. Doing so will soften your features. If you don't have much time, try to take a deep, deep breath before they take your photo.
- Close your eyes just before they take your photo. This will relax your eyes and center you.
- Don't clench your jaw.
- Lift your eyebrows slightly.
- Tuck your chin down, slightly.
Practice these tips in the mirror until you master them and you'll like your next ID photo. I promise.