Photographing military service members - check the regulation | Headshot Crew
Jeku Arce's picture

Photographing military service members - check the regulation

This post is for all the headshot photographers who photograph headshots for current military members and/or veterans:

Being a headshot photographer is not a full time gig for me, but has added value to the work I do in public relations as a civilian and as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Army. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for Peter Hurley and my fellow peers in HSC.

I’ve had several interactions with those in the HSC who photograph U.S. military personnel and veterans. I’ve seen a handful of photos that needed correction due to several uniform violations. I’ve pointed them out to that photographer, gave some tips on how to improve, and cited the military regulation so they are educated on the proper guidelines.

I do these for a couple of reasons:
As a military public affairs officer, I take pride in the presentation and reputation of my organization. If there is anything that may cause a misrepresentation or show unprofessionalism of my work place, it’s my job to correct the record.

As an associate, it’s important to perform quality control on how our organization is doing. It would make HSC look bad if its photographers were posting photos of its military uniformed clients when its clients photos are not following their respective uniform policy.

When I correct those of you who are not photographing U.S. Army soldiers according to Army Regulation 670-1, I’m doing it to protect the reputation of the U.S. Army and Headshot Crew. I take it personally when I see my organization’s uniform not portrayed to standard.

Tip: before you photograph a service member’s uniform, look up what that uniform policy is. Some can be found online. If you can’t find it ask your client for the respective regulation. Doing this also shows your client you are taking careful attention so that they look good and are looking presentable to their organization.

If you have any questions about the U.S. Army uniforms and ways to photograph clients wearing them, ping me.


Thanks for this info. Is there a particular link somewhere that you can point us to for each of the branches of military? And again, this is great information to know, since I doubt many/any of us are of these regulations.

I can only speak on the U.S. Army side.

Look up Army Regulation 670-1 on Google and you’ll find the regulation pertaining to the Army.

To look up the other regulations type in the related keywords and it should pop up.

What a great post, Jeku. I completely agree. But, on the flip side, I should certainly hope that the service members know their regs inside and out. I would be sure to place this emphasis on the service member with the photographer’s diligence of checking in with them that everything is up to code. Thanks for starting this conversation!

Never assume! Always have the information in hand.

Awesome Jeku glad your looking out for everyone! Love the Army I have relative at West Point doing very well.

I’m really just looking out for my Army folk. Navy can get beat like they have for the last 3 years hehe.

Oh, don't get started down that


Thanks for the heads up, Jeku! Also, I enjoyed meeting you and talking with you at Jon Meadows studio over the weekend! Thanks also for the BTS videos you took while Jon updated my headshot.

Pleasure meeting you also!

Discussion topic: at what point is it simply the client's responsibility to know what they should or shouldn't display? Are you going to search your local fire department's policy manuals (which probably aren't online)?

Here's a different angle on it:

- about 1:30 in, Annie has Conny Dufgran (co-founder of Profoto) in front of a chalkboard that I believe has a diagram of one of the original Profoto packs. Should Annie buy a 40-year-old pack (if it can even be found) and disassemble it to check the validity of their work, or ask if they have a physical unit in the space so she can check it? If someone actually knew that the diagram was wrong, do you think it would reflect poorly on Annie? Me, I doubt it; I think people would expect Profoto to be experts in their field,

The topic of proper uniform wear can brought up during the booking of the headshot session.

When I photograph headshots for business and medical professions I ask what is appropriate for their profession. Medical clients I’ve shot sometimes have their stethoscopes in the photos, some don’t due to local policy.

The way I see it - if the client’s attire looks wrong and someone who notices it and knows that it’s wrong, that someone may associate the lack of professionalism on the subject in the photo and the photographer for letting that happen.

Exactly! They cant expect non military people to know they have such particular guidance for their photos so to put the blame on the photographer is just pushing it in my opinion. Sure when I got a client I ask if they have specific need/preference for their background or lighting style, etc so THAT should cover any special needs they need to adhere to.

I am curious what you are finding wrong. A long, long time ago I was Army for 6 years, 7 months and 3 days. I remember having my full length photo taken after every promotion, basically to have it ready for the next promotion board.

Do you mean the placement and order of ribbons, patches, brass, gig line, etc?

I guess I am having trouble understanding what a soldier with any time in to speak of would get wrong. Especially if a mirror is provided.

Obviously something is annoying you but I cant imagine what it might be.

The most recent blatant error I’m finding is that the undershirt is not showing on the Army ACU pattern. Without the undershirt showing the soldier looks like he’s just wearing the blouse and nothing else.

Other errors I’m finding are patches misplaced and hair not in regulation.

I’m glad you brought up photos for the promotion board: those photos are taken by a photographer who understands how those photos are supposed to be taken. Every time I had my promotion board photo taken I was asked to confirm that every ribbon I was wearing was on my record, my unit crest was removed, and that my dress uniform was cleaned prior to the photograph taken. The extra care the photographer took to square me away left a strong impression on me - this photographer is setting me up for success.

We should have the same mindset for our headshot clients.

OK, so basically, if enlisted, they should look like they were just inspected by their sergeant. I don't know who you officer types used to get you ready for inspection, although I was often called upon to doublecheck my LT, Captain or even a Major or two over the years.

I have a senior NCO inspect my uniform. I don’t trust myself to get it right because I don’t do uniform inspections enough to know what’s right or wrong.

They also usually have some tricks to help get the dress uniforms looking their best.

For U.S. Armed forces uniform regulations here are some helpful links. Keep in mind new guidelines come out often. Military members can/should spot uniform discrepancies from a mile away. Knowing the rules will help them look their best and in turn help you.

Air Force uniform regulations

Army uniform regulations

Navy uniform regulations

Marin Corps uniform regulations

Coast Guard uniform regulations

Recommend using this site for the Army uniform regulation: