FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Mike Phillips, Department of the Army photographer and the meticulous eyes behind the camera lens, spoke with worrisome animation.

"DA Photo slots are almost full. Get scheduled soon, because it's going to get crazy," he said.

Appointment days for DA photos have been reduced, limiting the number of time slots. About 1,200 slots per year have been eliminated.

A DA photo is used to quickly determine a Soldier's professionalism and military bearing while conducting a board or when a Soldier is not physically present.

As with all first impressions, a DA photo can be used as a positive or negative discriminator. Soldiers should check their records before having their photo taken to ensure all medals, badges, ribbons and other accoutrements are properly recorded.

"If you don't have one (an updated DA photo), it sends a bad message to the board," said Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Hunt, senior enlisted leader, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

"When you open up the file, the photo is the first thing you see, and if it's not updated, it shows a lack of concern," Hunt explained.

Various boards, such as the Qualitative Management Program Board, the Overstrength Qualitative Service Program Board, and the Promotion Stagnation Qualitative Service Program Board will soon be reviewing noncommissioned officer packets.

DA photos should indicate a professional, disciplined, physically fit and competent NCO -- not a careless one.

"If you're not going to be there in person to sell yourself, your DA photo is you, in front of the board," said Hunt, just before updating his DA photo.

Ensuring you are competitive amongst your peers could make the difference at a board.

Schedule your DA photo appointment today as slots are limited and filling up fast.

"A good photo means that your uniform is pressed, cleaned," Hunt added, "and you've got all the appropriate awards, citations and decorations on there that you are supposed to have in the right place. Make sure you are well rested for your photo. It makes all the difference in the world."

For female Soldiers, the variance in uniform can be a big determining factor for boards.

"It's better to wear the skirt because there are less winkles," said Phillips. "Put on your uniform, stand in front of the mirror and take five steps backward. Turn to your right at a 15-degree angle, and then look at yourself in the mirror to see if your uniform is straight. That is the angle and distance that the photo is taken."

Devoting 30 minutes of your day to ensure you are competitive amongst your peers could make the difference at a board. Still, slots are limited and filling fast for DA photos. Soldiers should schedule their DA photo appointment today.

Check Army Regulation 640-30, "Photographs for Military Human Resources Records," before getting your photo taken.

To schedule your DA photo at either the Schofield Barracks or Fort Shafter visual information activity, visit