How to make sure your ID photo will look good

By Chen Ximeng Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-9 21:33:01

Getting your ID photo taken can be a nightmare, but not if you follow a few handy rules. Photos: Li Hao/GT

Song Jing dreads it whenever she has to use her ID card. Her photo on the card is unflattering. She looks unhappy, her face is blotchy and shadowed, and her eyes are dull and emotionless.

 "Every time my friends see my ID photo, they joke about it. I am very embarrassed to show them," said Song, 24, who works in education consulting in Beijing.

Song's problem is shared by many. According to a recent survey of about 2,000 Net users by the China Youth Daily's social survey center, 52 percent said they are unsatisfied with their ID card photos, and only 9 percent said they like the photos on their ID cards. 

As for the mystery surrounding why so few people find their ID photos satisfying, Chen Ying, a photographer with six years of experience in identification photography, said he is not surprised.

"At the public security bureau, people are not given much time for the shoot or to be prepared," Chen said. "Also, in the case of some identification photos, there are a lot of requirements, such as making sure your eyebrows and ears are visible."

Chen said that unlike other photoshoots where subjects can pose how they want, ID photos require people to put their face and head straight towards the lens, which leads to many people thinking their headshots look "too flat."

Fortunately, this year, many people will have the chance to take a new identification picture. In 2005, the government passed a policy which required people to get second-generation ID cards, which expire in 10 years.

It is possible for subjects to actually look good in their new photos if they follow a few rules, Chen said.

"Make sure your clothes, hairstyle, makeup and expressions are prepared in advance," he said.

One of Chen's tricks is putting a piece of calendar paper or A4 paper in front of the subject's chest when they are being photographed. The paper adds light to the chin for those who think their chin is too dark in their photos.

The "perfect" expression for an ID photo is when one is smiling without showing their teeth and opening their eyes wide without raising their eyebrows, Chen said.

There's nothing worse for killing a good ID photo than dark circles, double chins and collarless shirts, Chen said. He suggests using makeup to hide dark circles. To avoid a double chin, the subject should extend their neck and tilt their head down slightly. Wearing a checkered shirt can help the subject's frame look thinner, Chen said.

Li Si, a makeup artist in Beijing, told Metropolitan the key with makeup is to avoid making it too strong.

"Many people feel troubled by the fact their face looks too flat in their photo, and they can use different shades of foundation to remedy this," Li said. 

Subjects with bangs are usually asked to clip them to the side with bobby pins to show their eyebrows, which can cause the subject's hairstyle to look unnatural. Li said those who are worried about showing off too much of their forehead can bring hairspray to hold side-swept bangs in place so that their eyebrows are still visible.

Song recently decided to take a new set of headshots. She spent an entire afternoon applying makeup, changing suits and choosing pictures at an identification photo studio in Haidian district, and she's now more confident after having practiced her skills in taking ID photos.

"I am looking forward to getting a nice photo for my ID card after more preparation when my ID card expires in 2017," Song said. She said she hopes official photo centers will launch customized services in the future, such as accepting selfies or allowing customers to get their photo redone.

Some photography centers with the public security bureau have piloted such services already. Since February 1, residents in Zhejiang Province are able to have up to three retakes if they are not satisfied with their ID card pictures, according to Zhejiang Daily.

Look good in your ID photo

1. Use a piece of white paper to add light to your chin.

2. Open your eyes wide without raising your eyebrows.

3. Tie up your hair with a ponytail to look more    


4. Bring a comb and hairspray.

5. Wear a shirt with a collar.

6. The best position for your glasses is when the  upper part of the frame is in between your eyelids and eyebrows. 

Tips were provided by Chen Ying and Li Si
Newspaper headline: Say cheese

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