Ten things you need to know when getting an official Air Force photo

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katherine Miller
  • 166th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The time has come. You’ve been selected for Airman, NCO or SNCO of the Quarter, or you’re about to apply for your dream special duty. All you have to do yet is get your official Air Force photo taken. Should be simple, right?

Well, kind of.

There are 10 things your 166 AW/PA photo studio would like you to know before you take your official photo:

1.  Always provide the correct information to the photo studio.

            This is an easy step that’s often overlooked. When you call the photo lab at 302-323-3408, make sure you give them the following:  

  • Name, rank and phone number.
  • The type of photo you are requesting: Full-length or official portrait (can typically be found in the instructions of your package). Passport photography is supported by the 166 SFS.
  • Size of the photo: 8x10 or 5x7
  • Any other special instructions that your package may require.

2. Ensure your photo request aligns with the 166 AW/PA studio photography guidelines.

               Chain of Command studio photography will be provided for leadership at the squadron-level and above (commander, deputy/vice commander, senior enlisted leader, and first sergeant) as well as quarterly and annual award winners at the group-level and above.

               Official photos will be taken in the Blues uniform only, unless otherwise specified in the package submission requirements.

3. The photo studio is NOT responsible for proper wear of the uniform.

               The photographer will surely make you look great for your photo, however, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring your ribbons, badges and insignia are worn properly.

4. Call to schedule your photo at least three days in advance and then prepare yourself for your appointment.

               Set your own appointment reminder on your calendar or your phone, or both! Make sure your uniform is squared away. Press your uniform to get rid of wrinkles, as the studio lights will highlight them a bit more. If you need to cancel or reschedule, please ensure you call the photo studio as far in advance as possible.

5. Arrive a few minutes early.

               The photo studio, located in Building 2600, has two changing areas available. If you plan to use one of the designated areas, give yourself ample time to get yourself ready so you begin your appointment on time.

6. You will receive a digital copy of your official photo on the same day.

               Digital copies of your photos are emailed to you on the day of your appointment. Currently, the 166th AW/PA office maintains a limited capability to print hard copies of photos. Requests for print copies should be limited to official use, such as chain of command walls at the group level and above. Special projects or prints will be evaluated by the Chief of PA on a case-by-case basis.

7. No, the photo studio cannot photoshop your blemishes, wrinkles, gray hair, etc.

               The alteration of official Department of Defense imagery is strictly prohibited according to DoD Instructions. There are few exceptions; photographic techniques common to tradition darkrooms and digital imaging stations are allowed, such as dodging, burning, color balancing, spotting and contrast adjustment.

8. Bring a wingman with you to assist you!

               It’s always encouraged to bring another set of eyes with you. They may see something that you may have missed and help you fix it!

9. If you can’t make it during normal business hours…

               If for some reason you absolutely cannot make an appointment during normal business hours, please call the photo lab and one of the photographers will try their best to accommodate you for a special appointment.

               Photo studio appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on RSD weekends.

10. No, the photo lab cannot print you a personal copy of your photo.

               The digital copy the photo lab sends you has a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) and you are more than welcome to make your own copies and prints of your image for personal use.

If you have any further questions regarding official photos or the photo lab, please call the 166th AW/PA office at 302-323-3408!