FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 21, 2015) -- There are many things Soldiers have to do to prepare for a promotion board, but one key requirement seems to be causing a bit of confusion for Soldiers -- their official photos.

Denise Reyes, Multimedia and Visual Information Service Center quality assurance specialist, said the first thing Soldiers needing to get an official photograph taken for a promotion board need to do is setup an appointment in the visual information online work order system, www.vios.army.mil.

And the day of their appointment, they need to arrive in the MVISC, Bldg. 535, 15 minutes early and they need to come ready.

"The end of the year is when there are numerous promotion boards and Soldiers are trying to update their Department of the Army photos in preparation for boards. We have one studio and can only set up a fixed number of appointments. The longer they wait to make an appointment, the harder it will be to find one available," she said. "We encourage all Soldiers to not procrastinate and to get their photo updated when a significant change (takes place), such as the award of the Army Commendation Medal or above."

In recent months, many Soldiers have shown up for their photograph not knowing what they are responsible for -- a problem for both the Soldier and the photographer, according to Reyes.

"Army Regulation 640-30 outlines the Soldier's responsibility when taking the photo. And in that regulation, it states that Soldiers must come in with a properly fitted and pressed uniform. We will not clip a jacket in the back to make it tighter," she said. "They need to ensure that their awards and racks are all correct and even. They must have a fresh haircut and be clean shaven when they arrive here." Soldiers must be a first lieutenant or higher, a chief warrant officer 2 or higher or a staff sergeant and above, unless the Soldier is in the National Guard or Reserves, in which case all officer and warrant officer photographs will be taken.

"Most Soldiers need a DA photo for a promotion, and a promotion is an evaluation. It is the Soldier who is entering this new professional rank and it is their responsibility to know how to set their uniform up, not ours," continued Reyes. "Although we help as much as we can, we are not the ones who are supposed to know how their awards should be laid out. And their uniform should be ready when they come in the door."

Soldiers also need to bring their Common Access Card with them and they need to be prepared to give their whole Social Security number, she added.

Reyes suggests Soldiers bring their uniform in on a hanger -- not wearing it in. "We cannot digitally alter photographs, such as taking out wrinkles, on an official DA photograph, per Army regulations."

Photographers note problems happen when Soldiers come in not knowing what insignia, badges and tabs should be worn. "Soldiers only wear their permanently authorized awards, decorations, combat and special skill badges and tabs. If affiliated, regimental insignia will be worn. Shoulder sleeve patches and distinctive unit crest will be worn and are the only exceptions from the permanent rule," she said.

A mistake or error caused by the photographer or equipment is the only reason a reshoot may be made, unless a memo signed by the company commander is provided, continued Reyes.

The facility has three changing rooms for Soldiers to utilize, and Reyes said the staff helps Soldiers look the best they can, and will lint roll and straighten out the uniform before they get in front of the camera.

If a Soldier gets a promotion or is awarded a new permanent award, they should renew their DA photograph within 60 days. Reyes also suggests retaking a DA photo if there is a major change in appearance, such as losing a significant amount of weight.

To make an appointment for a DA, head and shoulders, or a photo in support of Soldier actions, such as officer candidate school or warrant officer applications, Soldiers must make an appointment online at www.vios.army.mil. Appointments are not made by telephone.

If Soldiers must cancel their appointment, though, they do have to call the office at 255-2116, 255-2805 or 255-2950 at least 24 hours before the appointment. Soldiers cannot reschedule an appointment until they call in to cancel.

The DA studio is located in Bldg. 535, before L Avenue, and appointments can be made for Monday and Wednesday mornings, and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

For more information on regulations concerning official Soldier photographs, see AR 640-30, or call the numbers above.