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turbo212003
24th of April 2009 (Fri), 14:25
Anybody know the rules about photographing military personal in uniform?
This is for commercial advertising, for a Fourth of July ad we're looking to run.
Or do you know of any web site that might have the information?


Thanks in advance.

asysin2leads
24th of April 2009 (Fri), 15:49
What are these going to be used for? For official military photos, there is a set way they have to be done. Shoot me you're e-mail address and I'll send you a document I have explaining this.

buckeyedoc06[at]gmail[dot]com

JWright
25th of April 2009 (Sat), 00:29
Anybody know the rules about photographing military personal in uniform?
This is for commercial advertising, for a Fourth of July ad we're looking to run.
Or do you know of any web site that might have the information?


Thanks in advance.

You live near a military base? Call up their public affairs office and see if they can give you any information.

jbrown7815
25th of April 2009 (Sat), 00:37
Yes, you need to talk to Public Affairs, and possibly have them check the photos first.

PhotosGuy
25th of April 2009 (Sat), 10:14
for commercial advertising, Without seeing your layout, here we'd be more likely to get a uniform from a prop house & shoot a model.

RDKirk
25th of April 2009 (Sat), 19:05
There are pictorial "rules" for shooting US military in uniform for portrait purposes, as well as regulations for the military services when they depict persons in uniform for official commercial purposes, such as recruiting advertisements.

There are no US laws governing how a civilian agency may depict a person in uniform--no matter how you do it as a civilian agency, no Feds are going to knock on your door to arrest you. However, there are non-punitive guidelines similar to the non-punitive guidelines for handling the US flag that they would like you to follow. If you screw it up, you will annoy military veterans and others who might otherwise have been customers.

The military public affairs office is going to know the regulations they must follow in depicting military personnel for official purposes. You might find someone in that office who also knows the tricks of photographing a military portrait.

The basic rule is that a commercial ad must not give the appearance of being actually sponsored by a military service. That essentially means that no "distinctive service accouterments" should be on the costumes of the actors or models.

What is a "distinctive service accouterment?" The service seals are "distinctive service accouterments," such as:

http://images.google.com/images?q=air%20force%20seals&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&oe=utf8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3Aen-US&um=1&sa=1&q=army+seal&aq=f&oq=

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&um=1&q=navy+emblem&revid=1056535908&ei=M5XzSfP9JZKYMrbo0agP&sa=X&oi=revisions_inline&resnum=0&ct=broad-revision&cd=2

They would also prefer you not have the actual service names, such as "US Army" where they appear on the uniforms. For instance, battle dress uniform blouses/jackets will have the service name over the left breast pockets--those should be removed for commercial photography.

It's also preferable to remove rank insignia, especially enlisted rank insignia (enlisted rank insignia is "distinctive," officer rank insignia is not).

Military unit patches are also considered distinctive and should be avoided.

If you photograph an actual military member in uniform, these rules must be followed for the sake of that individual...they're non-punitive for you, but they're punitive for him. In addition, you must also remove his nametag or name plate.

Beyond that, you'd want to make sure the models or actors are wearing the uniform properly, such as the correct items in the correct "ensemble"--you don't want to put a "mess dress" item on a "service dress" uniform. Yo want the tips of epaulets under collars, all buttons buttoned, hats on perfectly straight or at the prescribed tilt, and all "gig lines" straight. You can find PDFs of all the service uniform regulations online...they all have pictures of uniform combinations and correct wear.

And you certainly do not want to ask the military to actually check your ad first. That is a major can of worms in which you'd essentially be asking them to officially endorse and take official responsibility for your advertising campaign. A local public affairs office is not going to take that resposibility--they will send your request up the chain of command until it gets to the Pentagon where someone will sit on it. I've done that kind of sitting myself.

Now, you might get someone there to unofficially give you some pointers, as I've done.

birdfromboat
25th of April 2009 (Sat), 23:48
When you are in the military, they constantly tell you that you are government property, "wear that lid soldier, you are sunburning government property".
If that was truly the case, photography of a uniformed soldier should be no different than photography of the washington monument, right?
I would be sure that any soldier photographed would be in no danger of any repurcussions for being photographed, and if he/she is unsure, don't shoot.

PhotosGuy
26th of April 2009 (Sun), 10:19
There are pictoral "rules" for shooting US military in uniform for portrait purposes,... Good post!

20droger
26th of April 2009 (Sun), 10:29
When you are in the military, they constantly tell you that you are government property, "wear that lid soldier, you are sunburning government property".
If that was truly the case, photography of a uniformed soldier should be no different than photography of the washington monument, right?
I would be sure that any soldier photographed would be in no danger of any repurcussions for being photographed, and if he/she is unsure, don't shoot.
Not exactly.... A soldier is "government property" only to a drill instructor or other training personnel.

However, a soldier IS in government service. When wearing the uniform, and even (in some cases) when out of uniform, he/she is a representative the branch of service involved. As a representative, he/she is subject to the military's code of conduct (the UCMJ), and to the orders of his/her superiors, including all standing orders.

One of the standing orders for all military personnel is that they must, at all times, act in a manner that does not reflect negatively upon their branch of service. Among other things, they may NOT engage in any commercial enterprise that depicts that branch of service in an unfavorable light, period. And the determination as to what is unfavorable is not theirs (or yours) to make.

For example, I personally know a staff sergeant who owned a small convenience store and gas station. One day he was running late, so he waited on a few customers while still in uniform. He was promptly no longer a staff sergeant. It didn't matter that his customers already knew he was in the military. The powers that be decided that his working behind the counter in uniform was detrimental to the image of a soldier.

I'd tread very carefully about using uniformed service personnel for ANY commercial activity. Remember always that there is a huge difference between what you (as a civilian) can do and what they can do. They can be demoted, jailed, or discharged for doing seemingly innocent things that it is perfectly legal for you to do.

You should hire models and rent pseudo-uniforms.

RDKirk
26th of April 2009 (Sun), 23:47
I'd tread very carefully about using uniformed service personnel for ANY commercial activity. Remember always that there is a huge difference between what you (as a civilian) can do and what they can do. They can be demoted, jailed, or discharged for doing seemingly innocent things that it is perfectly legal for you to do.

It's the responsibility of the service member to advise his or her chain of command about any part-time job or external work he or she takes. Modeling or whatever--doesn't matter, they need approval of the chain of command is required. They should know that.

As they get that approval, they will also be told what is permissible and what is not.

When I was stationed at Pearl Harbor, it was not infrequent that television and movie production companies wanted young servicepeople as "extras" in productions playing young servicepeople. That was not a problem. They never wanted old guys like me, but I had some young troops who got such gigs. I had some people who played extras in the movie "Pearl Harbor" with Ben Afleck, for instance.