FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - A veteran of the photography business, Marc Parrone has been making people smile for more than 25 years.

At the Department of the Army (DA) Photo Lab here, however, Parrone is the only one smiling - behind the camera.

"I can still make my clients smile," said Parrone. "After I take the photograph."

The current manager of the two DA photo labs, the second which operates out of Schofield Barracks, Parrone handles all the installations' photo needs.

With two years under his belt as a contracted employee, Parrone oversees the daily operations of both photo labs, including studio and location photography.

Parrone, along with his three-person team of employees, handle the labs' busy schedules with ease and professionalism. The crew juggles constant phone calls, scheduled appointments and walk-ins on a daily basis.

"Marc and his crew are always helpful," said Sgt. Tracy Little, U.S. Army-Pacific (USARPAC) Special Troops Battalion (STB). "They make the process easy and comfortable for us."

The DA Photo Lab is instrumental in providing Soldiers with official photographs, including command photos, official DA photos, and passport and visa photos. Memos from a commanding officer or a copy of the official orders are needed to execute passport and visa photos.

Many packets, including warrant officer packets, military school applications and officer candidate school applications, require a paper copy of an official DA photo. A memo from a commanding officer stating the purpose of the photograph is required for all printed photographs.

When applying for a board, Soldiers are required to update their DA photo on their Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account.

Currently, all photographs are required to be taken in the Army green service uniform.
Beginning the fourth quarter fiscal year of 2009, Soldiers have the option, but are not required, to take their official DA photo in the Army Service Uniform (ASU). Soldiers may continue to take their DA photo in the Army green service uniform until the mandatory possession date of the fourth quarter fiscal year of 2014. During this transition period, official DA photos can be in either the Army green service uniform or the ASU, as stated in All Army Activities 202/2008.

The photograph is an important representation of the Soldier. It is of particular interest during DA selection boards and career management activities.

"The DA photo is very important," said Command Sgt. Maj. Alveno Hodge, USARPAC STB. "It is the only physical proof we have of the appearance the Soldier makes in their uniform and how they represent the Army."

Hodge explained when a board reviews a Soldier's packet for promotion, they look to make sure the awards and decorations are in the right order and reflect what is on the Soldier's officer or enlisted records brief.

He also stated the importance for Soldiers to present a "Soldierly like appearance" with a properly fitting uniform.

"The DA photo speaks on the Soldiers' behalf," said Hodge.

A certified Master of Photography from Professional Photographers of America, Parrone goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure Soldiers who pass through the DA Photo Lab get the best representation possible. Parrone and his employees set up each photograph carefully, making last-minute adjustments on uniforms, including straightening the sleeves to remove the smallest of wrinkles, tightening ties and adjusting collars.
With meticulous detail, they then direct Soldiers to stand properly and hold their head and arms a certain way until the perfect shot is composed.

After snapping a few photographs, the photographers pull each one up on the computer, side-by-side and, along with the Soldier, choose the best one.

"It is their duty to come prepared," said Parrone. "But we will help them any way we can."

Gratitude can be seen on Soldiers' faces as they exit the lab, providing words of thanks and shaking each contractor's hand.

"This is important to the Soldiers," said Parrone. "So it's important to us."

To schedule an appointment or for more information on DA photo labs, contact:
Aca,!AcFort Shafter Photo Lab, 248 Yokota St., Building 220, 808-438-7532
Aca,!AcSchofield Barracks Photo Lab, 2038 Humphreys Rd., Building 2038, 808-655-1905.