CAMP GENERAL SERVILLANO A. AQUINO, Tarlac, Philippines - Service members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States military received training in basic camera operation and graphic design during Balikatan 2011.

The 2011 Balikatan exercise is the 27th in a series of combined, joint efforts between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines of both the Philippines and United States. The goal of these exercises is to maintain military readiness through training and relationship-building between the two countries.

The term "Balikatan," a Tagalog word that means "Shoulder to Shoulder," symbolizes the partnership between the two countries as they work together toward a common goal.

The day-long training in combat photography was hosted by the AFP's Northern Luzon Command and was held at Camp Aquino in the Tarlac province. The class was conducted by members of U.S. Marine Combat Camera, Headquarters and Service Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Forces, Okinawa, Japan.

The purpose of the training was to instruct service members of both nations on techniques involving combat photography and graphics. Subject matter experts highlighted areas of basic photography including working in different types of light, depth of field, and working with both fast speed and slow speed shutters in order to capture action while out on missions. The presenters also covered aspects of design and production. The training consisted of classroom instruction, along with "hands on" practical exercises.

"The class is very interesting and I am learning a lot," expressed AFP Army Staff Sgt. Renato U. Omo, of Camp Aquino.

Training is being conducted in accordance with agreements made by the Philippine and United States Governments, particularly the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Service members of both countries attended the class and worked together during the practical exercises so they could learn from each other and improve their skills.

Students were eager to learn and asked many questions during the training. In fact, the class was so well-received that both the students and the instructors wanted more time for the training.

"I would like to have more training like this, I have learned a lot," said AFP Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lino M. Padilla of Naval Forces Northern Luzon, Poro Point, San Fernando.

Training activities like the combat camera class enable service members of both countries to get to know each other, train together and exchange ideas.

"I love photography and I like sharing the knowledge I have about the camera and its operation," said instructor Lance Cpl. Alejandro Pena, a combat photographer assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force. "I wish we had more time to teach," said Pena.