5 Reasons for Doing a Nonprofit Photography Internship in Cape Town

Are you an aspiring photographer looking for a unique learning experience? A nonprofit photography internship could be the perfect way for you to develop your skills and portfolio whilst contributing to something far bigger yourself. We’ve just created a new internship focused on supporting nonprofits in the city closest to our hearts – Cape Town, South Africa. Intrigued? Here are five reasons why you should join our nonprofit photography internship in Cape Town (it might just be the best thing you ever do). 
– By Alice Goodridge 

Improve your photography skills and build a unique portfolio

Firstly, a nonprofit photography internship offers you the luxury of focusing solely on developing your creative practise for however long you choose to stay. You will therefore have ample opportunity to refine your existing skills, and/or to explore new techniques, depending on your ambitions.

For many, nonprofit photography is likely to be unexplored territory and so this is also a unique opportunity to practice your photographic skills in a new context and to explore new subject matter. As well as being a great learning opportunity, this will also add breadth and interest to your portfolio and illustrate the scope of your abilities to clients (or to universities if you’re applying to study photography at degree level).

If you’re interested in the possibility of pursuing nonprofit photography or documentary photography as a career, an internship will give you a taste of what that career could look like, and enrich your portfolio with relevant work to show future clients.

Learn about nonprofit photography in a development context

South Africa remains a developing country with a complex history that still shows today. There are, therefore, a great number of nonprofits in and around Cape Town, working to improve the lives of South African people in a huge variety of ways.

Through connecting with these nonprofits, you will come to understand the vital role photography can play in supporting their work, from raising awareness about the important issues they are working to tackle, to marketing their projects to potential supporters and donors.

Get tutoring by a professional humanitarian photographer

We have partnered with Anna Lusty, a professional humanitarian photographer, to offer you valuable mentorship and technical guidance throughout your time in Cape Town. Anna will be able to provide you with a valuable insight into working with nonprofits in Africa. She has years of experience in the NPO sector, having worked in fundraising and donor communications before she made the switch to nonprofit photography. She says ‘I saw first hand the difference that strong visual communication can make and decided to take a step away from commercial photography into the NPO sector and see if I could support organisations with my skill set’.

I asked Anna to share her thoughts on what she believes this internship will offer to aspiring nonprofit photographers and she said:

‘There is much to learn about shooting for non-profits – not so much technical but more about gaining experience on the ground. Knowing how to handle very sensitive issues and beneficiaries with care and to be able to tell their story with respect and dignity. There is a lot riding on your shoulders. One must not be intrusive but must be able to hold a space where the subject feels safe and open. Sometimes you will only have five minutes to get the shot – so you must be able to work fast and think on your toes. This is something that can only be learnt through getting out there and experiencing. The internship offers just this opportunity whilst having guidance from a mentor.’

Support important causes and make an impact

Nonprofit photography offers you the chance to turn your passion and creativity into a tool for positive change. The act of creating to support something bigger than yourself, particularly something you care deeply about, can be an incredibly rewarding experience. A nonprofit photography internship will show you how you can harness your skills in photography to support the causes you feel passionate about, just as Anna has done.

We have connections with nonprofit organisations working in areas such as social development, education, urban greening, female empowerment and animal welfare – and you could be photographing any combination of these, providing them with images they can use in their communications and fundraising campaigns. You’ll spend at least a week with each organisation, so you can really get to know their needs and produce work of real value.

We might also ask you to assist us with some supporting work at Penda Trust, such as writing, social media management or fundraising, depending on your interests and skills. As a nonprofit with a focus on photography, we hope this experience will provide you with further insight into the power of photography as a tool for positive change.

Live and work in Cape Town, a vibrant and incredible city

There is nowhere else quite like Cape Town and there is something for everyone. Endless mountain trails, prime surf, eye-opening museums, contemporary art galleries, botanical gardens, arthouse cinemas, breathtaking beaches and a restaurant for every day of the year – it makes the perfect holiday destination. But, if you’re open to it, it’s also a city that will challenge you, open your eyes to the lives and experiences of others, and grant you a new perspective on life.

Find out more:

All about the nonprofit photography internship
Check out Anna Lusty’s portfolio
Read about Penda Trust 

More photography internships:

Wildlife Photography Internship in the Amazon Rainforest
Wildlife Photography Internship in South Africa

And find out more about Alice Goodridge, the writer of this piece.

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