First impressions: creating a promo photo
January 13, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- One snapshot -- that's what service members get to impress a promotion board. The photo submitted is considered to be a handshake, so it has to be flawless.
"The (Department of the Army) photo is used to quickly determine a Soldier's professionalism and military bearing while conducting a board, or in a situation where the Soldier is not physically present. As with all first impressions, the DA Photo can be used as a positive or negative discriminator," said Angelina Betran, photographer. "I feel blessed to be able to help the Soldiers have the best DA photo ever in hopes of them getting promoted."
Army Regulation 640-30 (Photographs for Military Human Resources Records) states that photos are valid for five years and can only be taken at authorized Visual Information activities.
In order to capture a proper photo for submission, Betran said there are several steps to follow prior to arriving at the Visual Information Center.
"Soldiers should check their records before having their photo taken to ensure all medals, badges, ribbons, etc. are properly recorded," Betran said. "Infantry cords and discs are not authorized for wear in the DA photo because they are not permanent awards, reference AR 670-1. Wear your Distinctive Unit Insignia; remember, they are the only exception to the permanent rule. Also, check your Army Good Conduct Medal. It's one of the most mistaken ribbons."
Soldiers should be familiar with AR 640-30 and AR 670-1.
"They will answer every question you have concerning your official photo," Betran said.
When Lt. Col. Christopher Carrier, U.S. Army Forces Command Liaison Officer to Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, came in for his DA photo, he was already familiar with the regulations. He suggested studying the guide, especially the models, and said to "make sure that you take a good look at the photos."
Betran recommended that uniforms be fitted and dry cleaned before the appointment.
Carrier agreed. "Make sure it's pressed and clean. I wouldn't wear it there; put it on when you get there so, it can look the best it can possibly look," he said.
Changing areas are provided at the Visual Information Center.
"If you are going to change here, it's very important to arrive early as you only get 15 minutes for your appointment." Betran said.
According to Betran, it's a good idea for candidates to bring a battle buddy to assist them and give them one last inspection.
"It's also a good idea to bring your ERB/ORB because you are not authorized to wear anything on your uniform that is not on the ERB/ORB with the exception of the DUI. This way, the Soldier knows what should be on his uniform," Betran said. "You also want to bring backup awards, racks, etc. just in case something falls off or breaks while you are here."
She usually takes two to six photos for the candidate to choose from.
"It depends on how well the Soldier can stand still and follow our directions," Betran said. "The Soldier picks the photo; we will give advice if asked. However, it is ultimately the Soldier's decision."
Betran said it's important to follow the proper procedures because photos cannot be retaken, unless the problem was on her end.
"According to AR 640-30, photographers will take re-shoots only when there is an error caused by the photographer or the equipment. Re-shoots may be completed upon receipt of a digitally signed email or written request signed by the company commander or equivalent in the Soldier's chain of command," Betran said.
Official photos cannot be altered in any way.
"It states clearly in AR 640-30 page 2, (k.) Photographer, Soldiers or anyone providing assistance to the Soldier while taking the official photograph will not stuff, clip, or otherwise alter the appearance of the uniform to make it fit properly. Pockets, lapels and the front of the jacket may be taped. We adhere strictly to this rule so please do not ask us to Photoshop anything, and if you are caught stuffing your uniform you will be asked to remove it," Betran said.
The Visual Information Center takes promotion photos for all branches of the military. Betran said candidates need to be aware of this when choosing which type of photo they need.
"If they are not certain, they should call us ahead of time and we are more than happy to assist them," Betran said.
"The Soldier needs to know that if they are going to need a different photo, such as a head and shoulders photo, they must create another work order for that photo. Also it's very important that the Soldier follow the process all the way through and hit submit; if not, the system will not save their work order and they will not have an appointment. We do not take walk-ins; the only way to have your photo taken is to have generated a work order in the Visual Information Ordering System," Betran said.
To make an appointment, log onto www.vios.army.mil with a Common Access Card.
"Don't assume you have an appointment because you logged into VIOS and completed the steps. Check your email for the confirmation email VIOS will send. It's a good idea to print that and bring it with you to your appointment," Betran said.
For more information, contact the Visual Information Center at 573.596.0233.