Interning abroad in photography is an incredible way to boost your portfolio, learn from experienced professionals, and get a better idea of what it takes to develop a successful international career. Like most careers in the arts, getting a job in photography is extremely competitive. Taking on a photography internship abroad will give you specific expertise as well as artistic inspiration for your own photographs and vision. By learning about a new culture while at the same time learning about photography, you’ll increase your creativity and raw skills in the field.
Why Intern Abroad
Photography internships abroad are an incredible way to boost your professional resume and portfolio, as well as build up your own network of colleagues and mentors. Even after a full degree program focusing on the artistic and production elements of photography, graduates are oftentimes out of touch with what a full-time career as a photographer actually entails.
By participating in a photography internship overseas, you’ll get to see the day-to-day operations of a studio, company, organization, or independent photographer and learn through assisting him or her. As a photography intern abroad, you might be managing photo databases, organizing past work, cross-checking digital files, using editing software, backing up and downloading completed jobs, or assisting on location for a shoot.
Choosing to pursue photography internships abroad will give you the chance to gain a new frame of reference for your own career and artistic pursuits. Many countries around the world place a different level of importance on culture and art, and being able to see this first hand may influence your specific focus within photography. In addition, you’ll be able to make your own portfolio more robust and varied through the different landscapes, people, and cities that you encounter during your travels.
Through conversations with local photographers you may learn new methods or approaches that were not taught in your home curriculum. In addition, the experience of becoming immersed in a new culture and having new sights and sounds is often a great source of inspiration for artists - take advantage of this as you develop your personal craft.
You can probably find photographer internships overseas in most countries, especially since many international internships are customized. If there is a specific country you are drawn to because of the images you want to create, go for it! If you have no idea where to start, below are are some great options:
South Africa is an excellent location for photography internships abroad. Whether you are interested in focusing on large cities, small rural villages, environmental or nature shots, or portraiture, South Africa has something for you. Known as the rainbow nation, because of its diverse people and home to a multitude of national parks, this is one country that most photographers have at the top of their list.
Spain is home to many cultural events and festivals that can provide perfect subjects for interesting and moving photographs. Whether you are interested in inspiring architecture, such as La Alhambra, or day-to-day scenes, like cobblestones and castles, Spain has a wealth of varied and inspiring themes for photographers. Cities like Madrid and Barcelona are prime hubs for professional photographers and photography internships to build your repertoire.
New Zealand is a wonderful choice for photographers interested in landscape and nature as their core subjects. With rolling hills and picturesque shorelines that have provided scenery for countless movies, including Lord of the Rings, New Zealand offers an environment that can easily seem epic. It is also an unbeatable location for those interested in action photography - as one of the most famous countries for adventure travel, you’ll find all sorts of bungee jumping, caving, rafting, and zip lining in New Zealand.
India is another marvelous pick for the location of your photography internship abroad. With busy cities, beautiful markets, and bright colors that make even amatuer photographers swoon, your portfolio will be brimming with amazing shots. India is home to the famous Taj Mahal as well as incredible locations such as Ladakh, the Caves of Maharashtra, and Varanasi that look like they are out of a magazine.
The ideal candidate for a photography internship overseas has a background in photography as well as a professional-grade camera. You should also have a strong portfolio and be able to work well independently in order to be a competitive candidate. If you’re looking for a photography internship placement in a commercial studio, you should have some experience or trust your abilities in working in a fast-paced environment.
Most photographer internship overseas require between 25 and 35 hours of work per week, although depending on your specific placement you could be asked to work on weekends or for after hours events outside the studio. Photography internships abroad are available year-round, but if you are interested in a certain type of event experience it may be good to research the timing so you can be sure to be in-country when special events are happening.
Typical tasks or projects involved in a photography internship might include marketing, outreach, organizing shoots, helping with set design, setting up shows in a gallery, and helping run the day-to-day administration of the company. Other duties may include developing photographs in the darkroom, assisting with editing, following up with clients, cutting images, working on album layouts, or going on location to a shoot. You might also be able to help lead workshops or photo classes for local attendees too. Photography interns can expect to observe the techniques and styles of professional photographers throughout their internship, in order to further develop skills for when it is time for them to take their own photos.
Specific types of photography interns may explore during their internships abroad may include wedding, portraits, commercial, journalism, fashion, landscape, and events. Interns should expect to gain knowledge about the logistics of a studio, gallery, or company, as well as specific methods for shooting, editing, processing, and printing photographs. There are a wide range of photography internships abroad - from working in a historical photography archive to working with a large marketing company where corporate photography is just one element of their digital and media campaigns. No matter where your photographer internship abroad falls along the spectrum, you will no doubt gain professional skills and become more marketable.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Interning abroad in photography is certainly not required to become a professional photography, and many people are able to successfully find jobs as photographers through interning domestically or building their brand through a website and gallery shows. However, internships abroad will certainly make you stand out as a photographer, and could give you the additional skills needed to land a more competitive job in the future - especially if you’re interested in a niche style of photography. Gaining work experience in high demand areas of photography is invaluable.
Beyond the benefit to your portfolio and career, interning abroad in photography will give you soft skills too, such as cultural competence, empathy, flexibility, problem solving, and interpersonal communication. Photography interns will return home more confident, after working abroad and building new relationships with professionals and other interns.
In a field that rewards risk-taking and stepping outside your comfort zone, photography internships overseas are extremely valuable for photographers. Photographers will have their ideas and processes challenged and invigorated in ways that might not have occurred without pushing themselves outside the walls of their home country and trying something new.