Is This Why Your Driver's License Photo Is So Bad?

There are no guarantees in life — with the exception of one thing, and one thing only: Your driver's license photo will always look terrible. But why? Why are our driver's license photos always so bad? Is there some sort of conspiracy going on at the DMV? Is it an attempt to even the playing field, with horrible license photos being the one great equalizer possible of making us see that we're not all that different from each other after all? Or is there something more... insidious going on? According to comedian Paul Gale's latest video for the Huffington Post, “Why the DMV Screws Up Your License Photo,” it's the latter — but even though we may have all had a sneaking suspicion about it all, I don't think any of us would have guessed exactly how terrifying the explanation might be.

As a comedian, Gale excels at many things, but where he truly shines is when he's tackling the more horrifying mundanities of life: Trying to date on Tinder, for example, or the constant misspelling of your name on your Starbucks cup. Like the whole barista-misspelling-your-name-on-purpose thing, Gale's imagined explanation for our terrible driver's license photos is just that — imagined — but, well… just tell me that you haven't looked down sadly at your license and thought these very same thoughts. We've all been there, right?

I don't know what it is about the DMV, but something about it just reeks of horribleness. You could be having the best day ever, but as soon as you walk through the door, everything immediately becomes awful. Your hair is awful. Your coffee is awful. You feel awful. And although I'm sure that everyone who works there are delightful people in real life, they are just about the most awful individuals on the planet while they are at work. I say “just about,” though, because they're beaten for the title of Worst Individuals Ever by one other group of people: Everyone else who is waiting in that interminable line with you. It's like each DMV location is a vortex of evil that sucks all the joy out of anyone or anything that comes in contact with it.

But not everyone you run into at the DMV is awful purely because they're at the DMV; some people actually are just awful. But context, as they say, is key, so if that inherently awful person is the one who snaps your photo? Hoo boy. If you run into this person, I have the greatest sympathy for you ever, no matter how many times you accidentally stepped on my toe while we were all waiting or whether you spilled your cup of awful coffee all over my awful outfit. Because for this photographer, there is — much like the Starbucks name thing — one, simple explanation for your awful driver's license photo:

Pure. Unadulterated. Evil.

The video gives a surprisingly complete look into exactly what drives this monster to commit his evil photographic deeds, but for the curious, here are just a few of the techniques he employs as he carries out his devious plan

1. The Fake Countdown

You know how sometimes your DMV photographer tells you they're going to count down from five, but then they snap your photo when they're only at three? If you've ever found yourself stuck with a perpetually surprised and unprepared license photo, you probably fell prey to the Fake Countdown.

2. The Decoy Camera

Does your photo show you looking down and slightly off to one side? Did your photographer tell you exactly where the camera was right before the photo was taken? I'm sorry to say it, but that camera was a decoy.

3. The Flash Attack

If you're squinting in your license photo, you may have gotten the Flash Attack. Flash photography is problematic for our eyes at the best of times, but when your photographer purposefully assaults your poor little eyeballs with an endless stream of flashes? It is the worst.

A note before we move into the next technique: What you're about to see is only used in extreme circumstances. But hey, I suppose at least the upside is that you might end up looking like Carl Fredricksen, and there are worse things in life than to be a Pixar character.

This technique, of course, is...

4. Photoshop

Or more precisely, “Photoshopping it into oblivion.” I don't know exactly when in the process a DMV photographer would manage to fit in an epic Photoshopping session, given that the results of a driver's license photo are more or less instantaneous — but maybe he does some sort of elaborate switcheroo during the time in which you're using a paper print-out while waiting for your real license to arrive in the mail.

Watch the full video here if you want to know exactly how evil this imaginary DMV photographer is — but don't say I didn't warn you. It's terrifying. (Good thing it's just comedy, right?)

Images: The Huffington Post/YouTube (6)