I Take Shockingly Horrible Photos

The first thing people always ask is, "Did you do that on purpose?" It's never on purpose.
Publish date:
December 6, 2012
bad pictures, photogenic, drivers licenses

It's never on purpose. That's the first thing people always ask, "Did you do that on purpose?" No, almost never. I have a gift for taking unbelievably bad pictures.

I'm talking, like, friends and strangers take pictures of my driver's license to show to people, it's so bad. This isn't some self-deprecating, trolling for compliments thing. It's a fact.

There isn't anything wrong with me. I was socialized at an early age and have even been accused of possessing good timing. I'm not that weird looking. I'm not some ogre. I actually tricked some sad sack into marrying me! I have been on television before and the sight of me did not scorch the corneas of America's viewing public. Yet for some reason whenever a friend or government worker whips out a point and shoot camera, my inner spazz comes out.

I attribute my photos to two primary culprits: a quick temper and free alcohol. I offer you Exhibit A:

Yes that is Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Back in the day when I had a grown-up job, said grown-up job entailed such things as opening nights and fundraisers and GALAS HONORING RITA WILSON FOR HER CONTRIBUTION TO THE ARTS.

Now, I don't know if you have ever been to one of these fancy shindigs, but the only real reason to go is for the free food and free drinks. Yeah, yeah, there are celebrities and stuff, but unless Conan O'Brien is manning the tequila bar, I'm rarely interested. It's a long story, but I get embarrassed lavishing attention on celebrities so I just avoid them like I avoid people who I think are a lot smarter than me. I just can't deal.

So you see, I got suckered into this photo. My friend Michael, who is fearless and charming, struck up a conversation with Tom about his pants. Tom said Michael's pants looked like something Elvis would wear, and suddenly they were best friends. Michael wanted a picture so he grabbed sweaty ol' me and through the magic of Hollywood, instead of taking the picture I ended up in it. WTF.

So I was pissed and pissed -- numerous drinks into the night. I think I found the one I'm holding in the picture on a table and it looked clean. Michael said, "Say Geffen!" (The Geffen Playhouse, where the gala was held, is the esteemed theatre I used to work at. I have now ensured they will never hire me again. Yay, me!) and because I was angry and drunk -- the sexiest of combinations -- everyone else got the full "Geffen" out, while, as you can see, I was still howling out "Ge-". And this gem was born to the ages.

Exhibit B:

Okay, first I have to reiterate the fact that I am not an ogre. We are going to do a compare and contrast. This is proof that I can look decent:

Keep this in mind as we proceed.

I needed a rental car because the car repair place crashed my car (yes, you read that right) and in order to get a rental car you need a valid driver's license. At the time, my current DL was expired, so I had to go to the Hollywood DMV. This was the first day that the State of California was switching to its new licenses, whatever that means, and I guess the Governator (Arnold was in power at the time) said no smiling in DL pictures. When I finally got to the front of the picture-taking line, I smiled, like civilized, post-Depression Era Americans do in photographs. The DMV picture-taking worker then proceeded to yell at me.

"Stop smiling. No smiling." So I stopped smiling.

"Stop making that face," he scolded.

"I'm not making a face!" I snarked back, the anger starting to bubble up.

He took another picture. "I said stop making that face."

At this point I was getting embarrassed. There was a line of people waiting behind me and here I was getting berated by the DMV photo guy for my face.

"I'm NOT making a face!" I barked and he took another photo.

"I cannot use this. You have to stop making that FACE."


He snapped another freaking photo. I should have known that no good could come of this.

When I finally left the DMV, the government possessed five stony-faced pictures of me. I thought I was okay. I didn't think my anger got the better of me. My inner Hulk did not make an appearance. So I thought. Then two weeks later I received this in the mail.

I'm not going to lie, I've grown to love it. Whenever I'm with a group of people and the inevitable pissing contest ensues over who has the worst driver's license photo, I always win. Whenever I want to charm a bouncer or a bartender, I show them my driver's license. When a friend is sad, the DL never fails to elicit a smile. Or guffaw. My brother-in-law calls it, "The stuff of legends."

It's a strange thing, but I much prefer these photos and photos like them, to the ones where I look pretty or composed or not constipated. It might be the attention, but more than that I think these photos capture the real me. You get much more of a sense of the person I am from the weirdo pictures than from most of the smiley ones.

In some ways, sharing these pictures here is just as revealing as posting nude pictures. (NOTE: I went swimming with dolphins once and the moment the photographer snapped my happy vacation picture with the dolphins, my bikini bottoms fell down. True story.)

So, there you go. No matter how unphotogenic you believe you are, or how terrible you think your driver's license picture is, I got you beat. You're welcome.