You’re a serious photography student attending a university with a strong photography curriculum, or a photography school. As important as formal education is to your future career, becoming an intern to a professional photographer or photography business will provide you with real-world, hands-on experience not typically available from higher education.
A primary benefit of an internship is to observe how a professional works, in all aspects of his or her business. Consider your internship as a laboratory, where you discover the formula a professional uses to balance photography with all of the demands of operating a business.
Of particular importance is taking careful notice of how the photographer relates to his or her customers. Professional photography is as much a people business as a photography business. Understanding exactly what clients want, and quickly, and providing them with personalized service before, during and after the shoot is just as critical as producing great images.
A very practical benefit of being an intern is learning how to organize a photo shoot. How does the photographer develop a plan to give clients what they want? How does the photographer select locations, the appropriate equipment, props, etc.? How does he or she create a budget and a price for the client? How does the photographer overcome challenges during the shoot?
Many photographers, who offer an intern opportunity, may ask that you help them with the day-to-day management of their business, so they can concentrate on photography. Use this as an opportunity to learn business management skills that may have nothing to do with shooting photos. If your career goal is to be a pro with your own business, then you must understand the legal, financial, insurance, labor and other aspects of running any type of small business.
Being an intern to a photographer is also an opportunity to learn how to market/advertise a photography business. The photographer may also ask you to perform some of these tasks to free him or her to serve more clients. Be observant and take notes. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions and do research to help the photographer improve his or her marketing.
The most obvious benefit of being a photographer’s intern is to improve and refine your photography techniques and skills. Of course, don’t expect the photographer to allow you to shoot an important client project, but do request some of the photographer’s time to explain how and why he or she shot a job in a particular manner. If the photographer shoots portraits, for example, he or she may allow you to bring a friend to the studio as a test subject, so you can photograph a mock job with the photographer’s guidance.
Look for opportunities to make a contribution to the photographer’s business. This may be as simple as keeping the workspace more organized and tidy; however, don’t hesitate, as mentioned above, to offer marketing or management suggestions. Some photographers may not appreciate photography suggestions and certainly not with a client present. Save these types of suggestions for private discussions with the photographer.
Another major benefit of being an intern is gaining confidence that you have what it takes to be a full-time professional in the future. Don’t be surprised if an internship opens your mind, and even changes your mind, to other career possibilities than the one you’ve been pursuing.
An internship could be an excellent part-time job during the summer or between semesters if the photographer is offering a wage. You would be learning as you’re earning.
Your school may reward educational credits for being an intern. Check with your school’s career counselor or its internship program.
If you’ve performed your tasks well for the photographer, then ask for a reference that you can add to your résumé.
Although the photographer may not be able to hire a full-time assistant or second photographer today, he or she may when you graduate. Try to maintain your relationship with the photographer, which could make a future job much easier to find. Professional photographers are typically networked with other photographers, so even if the photographer with whom you interned doesn’t hire you, he or she may know someone who will, and recommend you.
- 2013 Photographer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Photography
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Group Portrait Photography Handbook
- The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
- 500 Poses for Photographing Group PortraitsSelling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.
Feel free to check out any of our other photography reviews
Feel free to check out any of our other Tips and taking photo´s