Imagery Specialist trainees adapt to the times

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Jessica Craig (author), PTE Olivia Cameron (photographer), ABBM Daniel Goodman (photographer), AB Sittichai Sakonpoonpol (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul, NSW

Topic(s): Training, Imagery Specialists

Australian Defence Force Imagery Specialist students conduct their initial employment training at Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. Front: Private Dustin Anderson, left, and Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Support Operations Sittichai Sakonpoonpol. Back, from left, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Leon Dafonte Fernandez; Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Daniel Goodman; Private Olivia Cameron; and Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Nadav Harel. (photo: PTE Olivia Cameron)
Australian Defence Force Imagery Specialist students conduct their initial employment training at Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. Front: Private Dustin Anderson, left, and Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Support Operations Sittichai Sakonpoonpol. Back, from left, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Leon Dafonte Fernandez; Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Daniel Goodman; Private Olivia Cameron; and Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef Nadav Harel.

Like many things, the latest session of the Australian Defence Force Imagery Specialist Initial Employment Training program has looked a little different this year.

Just over half way through, the six trainees from Navy and Army are learning not only how to capture innovative imagery, but also how to be innovative in finding photographic opportunities given the complexities of the world around them.

During the 22 week training program, Imagery Specialist trainees undertake a Certificate IV in Photography and Photo Imaging delivered through TAFE NSW to provide them with corporate level knowledge.

They also participate in the Royal Australian Navy Initial Imagery Specialist Enterprise Course at the Naval Imagery Unit - East at HMAS Kuttabul, which provides them with on-the-job practical training and prepares them to work as Imagery Specialists in a military environment.

The trainees of Session 005 are currently undertaking full time practical training at HMAS Kuttabul, which is proving to be a unique experience with the Fleet activitie the trainees would normally practice photographing largely on hold due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

Course Instructor, Petty Officer Imagery Specialist Andrew Dakin said it has been an interesting challenge to ensure the trainees get the same opportunities and experience as others who have gone through the program.

“We have separated classrooms and minimised the learning environment footprint to ensure training adheres to physical distancing rules,” Petty Officer Daikin said.

“I have noticed a high spirit and positive response from the students in light of restrictions and interruptions. They are all proactive and work hard at learning and building their skills, and taking in every opportunity we can safely find for them to innovate and adapt their imagery to these unique times.”

Imagery Specialists play an important role within Defence’s capability framework. As the Imagery Specialist Initial Employment Training (IS IET) courses are extremely competitive (only taking in 12 personnel per year, or four from each Service), it has been important for Petty Officer Daikin and his team to ensure IS IET continues to run and evolve.

“ADF Imagery Specialists bring a niche skillset to provide an effect to the Australian Government, the Australian Defence Force and its military commanders by capturing and processing visual information for dissemination,” Petty Officer Daikin said.

“The quality of training has improved over the years and has shifted from Navy-centric to Australian Defence Force enterprise training, honing the skills of all Defence Imagery Specialists.”

Petty Officer Dakin said there was a certain level of satisfaction in being involved in training the next generation of Imagery Specialists.

“It’s a rewarding experience seeing the students graduate and contribute to the professional image of the Australian Defence Force,” Petty Officer Daikin said.

“It’s satisfying to observe esprit de corps among the students, regardless of the uniforms they wear, with them having spent the past five and a half months training together.”

Imagery Specialist trainee, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Daniel Goodman said after two years of preparing to transfer category, becoming an Imagery Specialist is something he won’t take for granted.

“Knowing that I will be part of capturing spectacular images for the Australian Defence Force is a great feeling,” Able Seaman Goodman said.

“It has been rewarding and challenging to hone these new skills with everything going on. Our team has had the privilege of capturing some really exciting things such as NUSHIP Sydney sailing into Sydney Harbour for the first time.”

Transferring to the Imagery Specialist category can be highly competitive, but Petty Officer Daikin encourages any Navy, Army or Air Force member to consider the benefits of the challenging career and weigh up their own motivations and abilities.