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Photography Internships

Internships are excellent for getting your foot in the door. They offer invaluable work experience and, depending on where you intern, can last anywhere from three months to nine months.

Few internships are paid, but most offer school credit. The important thing with internships though, is that they do offer work experience and potential contacts for when you start looking a regular, paying job.

What career you hope to start can influence where you intern. For example, those interested in photojournalism should intern at newspapers or magazines, while future photo curators will find an internship at a museum or gallery beneficial. Remember that no two internships are alike. Below is a list of different internship opportunities and the duties that are typically completed during those internships.

Magazines

  • Magazines often have a separate department for editorial interns and for photo interns. They accept interns during the academic year and the summer year as well. Try to stay from those that require you to fetch coffee or make copies of anything. You are there for the work experience, not to run errands or act as a secretary.
  • Duties can include the following: stock photo research, processing invoices, attending photo shoots, tracking art and portfolios for the department, scouting photographers, reviewing magazines for new talent, some administrative duties.

Studios

  • Photographers who own their own studios are always on the lookout for extra help and many are willing to mentor future professional photographers. These are more similar to apprenticeships, so there is often no regular acceptance schedule for interns. Look in your local area for photographers who specialize in a career field that you are interested in and contact them to see if you can arrange a school internship. You might also have luck in arranging for school credit for these types of internships.
  • The particulars of these types of internships will vary depending on the field you choose, but general duties can include the following: assist with shoots (on location or in the studio), assemble equipment, help determine appropriate lighting, assist with storing and packing photo equipment, attend location scouting, assist staff photographers and any studio managers with routine studio operations.

Museums

  • For those interested in becoming photo curators, archivists or gallery owners, internships at museums can be valuable. Museums offer accept three-, six- and nine-month long internships, while others offer research assistance-ships. Still others offer positions as docents. It is especially beneficial to intern at a photography museum, but since most art museums now carry collections of photography, it is still possible to intern at those and still obtain similar experience.
  • Duties can include the following: online research, primary research in photography archives, as well as exposure to curatorial practices, grant-writing, educational programs and conservation methods.

Galleries

  • Local art and photography galleries are excellent places to intern. They offer curatorial internships, similar to those at museums, but you will be exposed to different aspects of photography when interning at a gallery. Not all galleries accept interns, however. If you are interested in interning at a gallery, check to make sure that they accept interns. Galleries accept interns throughout the academic year, while others only accept summer interns.
  • Duties can include the following: assist with the selection, installation and lighting of photographs and other art works for exhibitions, inventory and record-keeping, prepping for events and receptions, engaging patrons, and maintaining contact with collectors and artists.

Newspapers

  • An internship at your local newspaper is a great way to get your foot in the door. Like magazines, they accept interns throughout the academic year. Newspapers in larger cities usually offer summer internships only.
  • Duties can include the following: work with photographers and editors, shooting stories for many sections of the newspaper, review contact sheets. In some cases, your work may be published alongside feature articles, online or in print form.
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