A photography internship allows students to work closely with a professional photographer to gain work experience and expand their knowledge.
An internship can help fast-track your photography career, giving you the boost needed when looking for work in this competitive field.
Learn how to network with photographers, write your cover letter, and learn everything you need to know about applying for a photography internship in 2023.
I used to work a lot with photography interns on projects and loved sharing my expertise with those willing to learn.
All of my knowledge is included here for you to understand what to expect and how to get a photography internship quickly.
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How to Get a Photography Internship in 2023
There are many ways to find a photography internship, including networking and directly contacting photographers you want to work with.
Here are some of the best tips to help you get a photography internship this year:
Send an Introductory Email
Write an email similar to a cover letter introducing yourself to the photographer.
The email should indicate why you should be given an opportunity to be a photography intern, information about who you are and what photography experience you already possess.
When sending out this email, choose a photographer or employer that most interests you so you can gain the experience and knowledge you need as a photographer.
Practice Your Elevator Speech
When approaching a potential employer, you want to have your introduction as polished and professional as possible.
Write down your elevator speech, keeping everything brief but concise, and practice in front of a mirror or with friends.
Have Photography Samples Ready
Depending upon the employer and the nature of your internship, you might be asked to show some samples of your work during the interview process.
A strong portfolio should showcase your talent and what you have already learned.
Printing out a portfolio or creating a lookbook can provide you with something physical you can give photographers, or you can choose to create a digital portfolio.
You do not need to pay for an expensive website to post your photographic sample, but if you want, you could use a free online app, such as Pixieset, to send sample galleries of your photos.
Think About References
It is always best to have references when applying for any work, including photography internships.
No matter how small you think the experience may be, it can be vital when applying for a photography internship.
Have you completed any work for companies? Or have you volunteered your photography skills at a church or local charity? Or have you taken portraits or did photo shoots of families?
Speak with those you have supplied any photographic services and ask permission to use them as a reference.
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Be Excited and Eager to Learn Photography Skills
No one wants a photography intern who dreads coming to work, and employers are looking for interns who are eager and willing to learn.
During your interview, be excited about the internship and ask lots of questions to show your interest in the experience and the photographer you hope to work with.
Sometimes a photography internship is unavailable in your hometown or nearby city.
Because of this, some students need to relocate to a larger city where they can access many more opportunities.
We understand this is not always an option, especially if you are not financially able to do so, but if you can afford to move to a new city or find a paid internship paying enough for you to move, it might be worth the change.
You will be up against many other photography students who are looking for an internship and may be applying with the same photographers as you are.
Take time to research each photographer you are interested in learning from, and keep a list, so you are prepared with a backup plan if your first choice is not an option.
5 Tips for Getting a Paid Photography Internship
Most summer photography internships are unpaid because you learn how to build a professional skill set; however, getting a paid photography internship is possible. You just need to know how to find it.
So, how do you find a paid photography internship? Here are some ideas to help you:
1. Network Early
Start networking with professional photographers early to learn who offers paid internships and to make yourself stand out during the intern application process.
2. Career Centers
Many universities or adult learning centers have a career center, which can provide you with a career coach to help you pinpoint paid internships, including photography internships abroad.
3. Cast a Wide Net
Check with everyone you know, including your parents, academic advisors, friends, and family, to see who may know someone in their networks looking for a paid intern.
4. Internship Fairs
Colleges, community centers, and other venues host internship fairs, which may include vendors in the photography field who you can speak with and learn about their unpaid or paid internship programs.
You may even learn more about an international internship that will take you to other countries where you will gain valuable experiences.
5. Ask for It
If you accept an unpaid or paid internship, don’t be afraid to ask for compensation beyond an hourly wage, such as reimbursement for expenses and travel pay.
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What are the advantages of taking part in a photography internship program?
Photography internships provide many benefits for students seeking to gain work experience and expand their photographic knowledge.
Taking part in photography internships is one of the best ways to fast-track a photography career and can help you develop technical, practical, and networking skills.
Serious photography students can benefit from an in-person internship, where they will receive real-world and hands-on experience, which is not typically gained from formal education.
Photography internships abroad provide travel experience for students looking to travel the world and learn from the best photographers in some of the top cities around the world.
Other advantages of taking part in a photography internship program may include the following:
- Gain photo editing skills, including using Adobe Creative Suite
- Build your portfolio and resume
- Learn marketing and advertising skills
- Build your self-confidence as a photographer
- Learn about the behind-the-scenes work
- Get paid or receive college credit
- Gain valuable work experience
- Practice handling equipment
- Gain valuable photography studio experience
What do you do at a photography internship?
As an intern, you are a low man on the totem pole, which means you can expect to conduct some entry-level work, including making appointments, scheduling travel arrangements, and filing.
Depending on your internship job description, you may also spend a lot of time running errands, getting coffee, posting on social media, helping stylists, and setting up lighting equipment.
How many days a week you work or how often you will attend photo shoots vary by the photographer and company you are interning with.
Some photographers only shoot once or twice a week, while others, such as portrait photographers, shoot daily in the photo studio.
Ultimately you will be put to work wherever you are needed, but don’t worry, you are there to learn, and they know it.
You will have plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on experiences to help you with your career goals.
How do I write a cover letter for a photography internship?
Writing the perfect cover letter for a photography internship provides others with a snapshot of your career as you share a personal and professional story about yourself.
The cover letter is meant to help you stand out from hundreds of other college students seeking the same internship.
Don’t rewrite your resume. Instead, highlight your passions, dedication, and eagerness to learn more about photography.
Some tips to help you write a fantastic cover letter include the following:
- 1st paragraph: Open with a fun story about yourself, why you got into photography, and why this internship is the perfect fit for you.
- 2nd paragraph: Introduce your background and experience, which you will bullet point below.
- 3rd paragraph/closing: Let the photographer know where to see your portfolio and how eager you are to learn from them and their team.
What Type of Photography is Best for a Career?
Being a professional photographer is an exciting life, and your career will often have you traveling, meeting new people, and gaining unique experiences each day you work.
Within the professional photography field, there are several genres you can work within, including product, model, portraiture, or wildlife photography.
The most important thing to consider when looking for a photography career is to work shooting subjects you enjoy working with.
Photographers do earn a decent salary, and some of the highest-paying photography jobs include: