Madison DMV photographer makes dreaded trip something to smile about

MADISON, Wis. — When you meet Madison native Michael Zeimet, he’ll most likely ask you to smile.

Zeimet, the photographer at the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles’ west Madison location, has worked for the DMV since 1987 and has been behind the camera for the past 16 and a half years.

It’s estimated he’s taken over half a million driver’s license photos over the years. Chances are, if you live in the Madison area, the picture on the license in your wallet is the result of Michael’s work.

Several states don’t allow smiling on driver’s license photos, but smiling is allowed in Wisconsin. In Zeimet’s case, it’s encouraged.

“I generally think people have better pictures when they smile, although some people do have really good, serious looks as well,” he said.

A trip to the DMV is usually not something people look forward to, but Zeimet’s goal is to make the trip as painless and quick as possible.

“We generally get finished with people within 20 minutes, but within 20 minutes they’ll have their picture taken and be done and walking out the door,” he said.

At 66 years old, Zeimet has no plans to retire — and why would he when he loves his job?

“That’s one thing that I really like is meeting so many people that I never could possibly meet, and just without having a job like this, it’s given me an opportunity and I’m really grateful for it,” he said.