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The Reason Why Photo IDs are Designed to Make You Look Bad

Maybe you’ve got a good photo now but nobody goes through life without being the victim of poor photography once.

Do you like your ID photo? Image Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

It’s not just you; everyone has the same bad luck regarding ID photos. Sure, maybe you’ve got a good picture right now, but nobody goes through life without being the victim of poor photography once.

This is the single universal thing across countries and their varying systems. While the reasons for this are known, it’s still not going to change soon. However, it’s still nice to be reminded of them and to encourage you through the years to put up with subpar photos.


We prefer the definitive version of ourselves. Image Credit: Kicking Studio / Shutterstock

Social media is flattering because even the backgrounds of photos can tell you so much about a person. Aesthetic preferences, interior design styles, posting habits, and hobbies form a story. It gives a well-rounded view of how we see ourselves and how we want others to view us.

With this omitted in favor of a standardized white color, this erases individuality. Humans are products of their environments. When this is taken away, we become a blander version of ourselves, despite how we choose to present ourselves.


Office lighting is artificial. Image Credit: 06photo / Shutterstock

Instagram is flooded by people taking golden hour photos or simply relishing in natural sunlight. In these conditions, our face is more flattering because of the mix of authenticity and highlighting of our most flattering features.

However, most ID photos are taken in white office lighting. This tends to be harsher on the skin, unlike warm white or off-white, which adds warmth. Also, the angle of illumination is hardly ideal. With the use of flash or light from one source, it is too harsh because of its awkward positioning.

Photo Requirements

People look pleasant when they smile. Image Credit: Ollyy / Shutterstock

We are used to seeing ourselves a certain way. An eclectic style might make someone feel more confident in their skin. This could mean a jagged haircut, dark makeup, and funky glasses. ID photos emphasize neatness, which does not fit diversity in dressing. By removing bangs, glasses, or makeup (means through which we aestheticize our appearance), we cease to recognize ourselves. While we may still look good, we don’t feel good: something that matters more.


Only one go to make it perfect. Image Credit: Alextype / Shutterstock

We’ve all lied on our resume and said we’re good under pressure. It’s no surprise this has an effect on our ID photos which is quite like a performance. We understand there’s no space for retakes among the millions of people waiting for the same service.

Even if there is, we’re too shy to ask for another go. The pressure makes us seize, and body language experts agree that discomfort is quite visible. Some people aren’t used to neutral faces, which makes. This is shown through cheek muscles in forced, tense or absent smiles. One tip is to think of something that makes you genuinely happy instead of the photo, which naturally eases up your face!

Written By

Hi! I'm a lover of stories, reveller in the night and you can usually find me dreaming about my film photos coming back from the lab. I'm exciting to write Lifestyle and Culture stories for Trill and hope you enjoy the content :)

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