You sneezed. The light was unflattering. You look like a deer gazing into headlights or a hazy memory from that college party. You look, in a word, awful. You did your hair. Your makeup was flawless. You got plenty of sleep. You came to my desk feeling great and confident. Not today because this is the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I am the reason your ID picture is awful

I have all the training you could ask for. I went to art school and took the photography courses. I even did well in the portrait lighting classes. I read “Picture Perfect Posing” — twice. I attended the Lindsay Adler Portraiture Boot Camp. I follow her religiously on YouTube. Peter Hurley? Same.

I made that anonymous incredible portrait of your grandfather blowing out the candles on his 80th birthday. I could make the perfect photo ID of you using this $200 camera and shoot-through umbrella. But I won’t. I won’t because I am a horrible human being with surprisingly too much power.

It’s not personal until it is

I remember taking your picture at the DMV in San Pedro, CA back in 1998. There was a squirrel in the window. I know. His name was Ted — Ted the Squirrel and I trained him to pop up in that window. I miss Ted.

I was the one who processed your change of address form in 2005. Sandra usually handles the camera in Willits, but she had a sudden, urgent family matter and I volunteered to fill in. I drove 532 miles over 10 grueling hours to be there. I saw another client on the way desperately explaining to the unsympathetic CHP officer why his picture doesn’t look anything like him. Muah. Ha. Haah.

I do actually take a couple good photos during our 60-second session. I am still an artist, after all. Nobody ever sees them. Well, almost nobody sees them. I allow the occasional “good one” to be used. You show it to your friends at the club. They hate you for this photo. Muah. Ha. Haah.