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6 May 2020 - Inspiration

5 Reasons for Doing a Photography Internship Abroad

Why international photography experience can kickstart your career

Photography is a competitive field and launching a career as a professional photographer can be challenging. It’s not enough to be a great photographer; you also need to understand the industry, have the ability to market yourself, and build a relevant network. To give yourself a head start with your career – or to just explore the option of becoming a professional photographer – it can be very valuable to do a photography internship. And why not consider a photography internship abroad? We might be slightly biased, but we believe getting international photography experience under your belt will add a huge amount of value. That’s why we’re excited to offer photography internships in Africa and South America. Here’s why becoming a photography intern on one of these programs could be a great idea for you.
– By Jilke Tielemans

Build an interesting and varied portfolio

Photography internships abroad enable you to create an outstanding and unique portfolio of images. This can be a huge asset if you want to make it as a professional photographer since it will help showcase your talent and scope. If you have a portfolio already, spending some time in a completely different setting will help you diversify it. And of course, it will help to add your new work to your website and social media channels; it can help distinguish yourself from others, increase your following, and establish yourself as a diverse photographer. 

Sharpen your skills

Even if you’re already an accomplished photographer, there’s always more to learn. If you choose the right photography internship, you’ll get expert guidance from a professional; someone who can help you sharpen your skills, teach you new tricks, and introduce you to focus areas you might not have explored yet. You’re also likely to meet talented photographers from all over the world and have the chance to learn from each other. Doing a photography internship abroad is a great way to get to know yourself better as a photographer, and take things to the next level. 

Have unique photographic opportunities

A photography internship abroad can be the perfect time and place to discover a different side of photography. You’ll be surrounded by different vistas, cultures, and colors. You might wake up to striking landscapes, immerse yourself in foreign cultures, and find yourself surrounded by incredible wildlife. Wherever you’ll be based, you’ll definitely have photographic opportunities you wouldn’t have at home. Apart from the fact that this will provide creative inspiration, it might help shape you as a photographer; maybe you will discover that you’re excellent at wildlife photography, that street photography is your real passion, or that you’d like to focus on nonprofit photography. 

Learn about working as a professional photographer

Apart from honing your skills and building a portfolio, a photography internship abroad can also introduce you to the competitive world of professional photography. During an internship, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field, which can be a huge advantage to reaching your goals. You’ll be able to pick up tips on how to market yourself as a photographer, how to find paid jobs, and how to get ahead of your competition. Doing a photography internship can hugely help you kick-start your career. 

Give back through photography

Besides all the above, some photography internships abroad will give you the opportunity to give back while photographing. During our Nonprofit Photography Internship in Cape Town, for instance, you’ll be photographing charitable projects that are doing important work on a grassroots level. The images can help them raise awareness about their cause. Similarly, our Wildlife Photography Internship in Kruger will give you the opportunity to support wildlife conservation initiatives in the area through the images you’ll take. Giving back while reaching your own goals is a win-win situation, right?

A bit more about Penda’s photography internships abroad:

  • Nonprofit Photography Internship, Cape Town (South Africa): If you want to both sharpen your skills and get the chance to support nonprofit causes, this is the perfect internship for you! As a photography intern in Cape Town, you’ll document the work of a variety of nonprofit organizations, so that the charities can use the images for their fundraising campaigns. Professional humanitarian photographer Anna Lusty will guide you along the way to make sure you’ll improve your photographic skills, and learn the ins and outs of nonprofit photography.
  • Wildlife Photography Internship, Kruger, (South Africa): This is the perfect opportunity for you if you’re passionate about wildlife photography and would like to explore becoming a professional wildlife photographer. Besides improving your own skills, you’ll have the exciting opportunity of photographing a variety of wildlife, including the Big Five. Professional wildlife photographer Sam Cox will be there to help you develop your skills and reach personal goals.
  • Wildlife Photography Internship, Amazon (Peru): Have you always dreamed of photographing jaguars, monkeys, reptiles and many tropical birds? Then this is a unique chance for you! Photographing in the wildlife-rich Amazon rainforest will give you a huge amount of experience, and an exciting portfolio of images. You’ll enjoy personal tutoring by professional wildlife photographer Mark Fernley.

5 Things to keep in mind when applying for a photography internship abroad:

  1. Don’t worry if you’re not hugely experienced. There are photography internships available for photographers of all levels. Even if you’re still a beginner, and want to just explore photography as a possible future focus, there are suitable photographic internships out there for you. The skill level required varies with different internship programs. It’s worth enquiring, even if you’re not sure if you’ll meet the requirements!
  2. Pick the right focus area. Many photography internships abroad are very specifically focused. You might only be doing wildlife photography, cultural photography, or street photography, and there might not be much opportunity to expand out of this focus. So make sure you know which photographic opportunities you can expect, and that this aligns with your interest and skills.
  3. Make sure you’ll receive the kind of tutoring you’re after. To ensure that your photography internship helps you gain the right skills and knowledge, it’s essential that you get personalised tutoring from a professional photographer. Do your research and make sure you like your guide’s work, that he or she is someone you’re keen to learn from, and that you’ll get plenty of one-on-one time during your internship.
  4. Go for a program with a small group size. Some photography internship programs abroad are group-based. While it’s great to be surrounded by other photographers, it is obviously important that you get enough personal guidance from your photography tutor. So make sure there will be a good balance between spending time with other photography interns or volunteers and personal tutoring.
  5. It’s also an adventure! While your main objective during your photography internship will probably be to learn new skills and build a portfolio, it’s also an opportunity to have an incredible adventure abroad. So combine it with travel ambitions you might have, soak up all the new impressions, and sometimes even put your camera down to purely enjoy the journey.
Browse through all our photography tours, workshops, and internships! 


Photo Credits: Brian Geissel, Samuel Cox, Andrea Rees, Anita Reed

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