Something to smile about

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By Calen McKinney

It's often the most difficult part of being a reporter - finagling someone into allowing me to photograph them.

And I can understand the feeling of not wanting some stranger to take a photograph of me. After all, isn't one of the best parts of being a reporter that you are the one taking the photos and not in them?

I read recently that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Indiana is changing its rules for driver's license photos, and people will no longer be allowed to smile when getting or renewing their licenses. They also won't be able to wear a hat, scarf or even glasses.

The article went on to say that smiling distorts a person's face, making it less effective for use by fraud detection technology.

While I'm all for fraud detection technology that could perhaps prevent some cases of identity theft, making it a rule for people to NOT smile in a photo is a bit much for me.

Isn't getting a driver's license one of the best days of a 16-year-old's life? Isn't that cause for a smile?

It's commonly joked about that driver's license photos are notoriously awful, but shouldn't we at least smile in them? Driving is a privilege after all, and not everyone is able to drive.

The article also states that Kentucky law doesn't allow drivers to wear sunglasses in their photos - which I can understand - but says nothing about smiling or wearing glasses. I sure hope we don't follow Indiana's lead.

I don't know about you but I wouldn't be able to see anything without my glasses and I really wouldn't look like me without them.

If Kentucky legislators passed this law, I wouldn't be allowed to wear my glasses in my driver's license photo. I have to wonder though, if I was pulled over, would my identity be questioned if I was wearing glasses in person and not in my driver's license photo?

I think you can tell a lot about a person by observing their demeanor in a photo.

Whenever I am writing court news stories, I always find it interesting to see the emotion in a person's mug shot.

Some people look mad that they were caught "allegedly" doing whatever they were doing that is against the law. Others look like they are about ready to burst into tears or are under the influence of some illegal substance.

Some mug shots are taken by photographers who somehow manage to capture the exact moment when the person is saying something, which makes the person look like their mouth is hanging open. Other times the person's eyes are shut or they're making a goofy face.

In other mug shots, the person is wearing a huge smile, which is something I have never quite understood. If I was being arrested, I certainly wouldn't be smiling.

People take photos at many occasions, including graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, weddings and even for Christmas cards. We're usually smiling in those.

Maybe it's just me, but I think serious faces are appropriate for some photos, prison mug shots being the perfect example, but not driver's licenses. That's just taking the fun out of being a new driver.

I just hope I don't meet people on the road who aren't wearing their glasses.