Photography Jobs/Internships
March 18, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Are there any Photography Studios/Companies/Newspapers in the New York City area that an amateur photo could get an internship or a summer job with?

I'm a college student looking for internships or a part/full time job for the summer. I'm currently a psychology major and I'm taking a digital photography class right now but don't plan on minoring or majoring in Photography.
I have become very serious about photography for a couple of years and I have multiple experiences shooting A Capella performances, Concerts, I've tried my hand at photographing theater, and I would like to try out photographing other things, such as Models, Food, News, etc. I really would like to experience a whole lot fields of photography.
So would anyone know of any Photography Studios or businesses that would accept interns or Part time work? Or does any me-fite work at a place like this and could give me tips? I don't want to receive college credit, because we have to write in some silly journal and write a research paper. I don't care if I get paid or not get paid at. I just want experience and I'm willing to do gopher work. If it's a part time summer job, that would be fine also.
posted by Del Far to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is more of an "In addition to..." suggestion, but have you thought about submitting to stock photo libraries? It sounds as though you are shooting with specific themes in mind which is perfect for libraries like Getty Images and such. Plus you gain royalties for any photos used. I had a friend who did this as a means of part-time income. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions so you know your rights in accordance with the use of your work.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 12:16 PM on March 18, 2008

Many agencies offer internships. If I was looking for one, I'd check out the "jobs" link at VII. The Village Voice offers internships and I'm pretty sure most other publications do as well. I would do a little bit of goggle work and find out which of your favorite mags/papers have offices here in NYC and just go from there - send them an email asking what the intern application process is. I bet you'll get some hits.

Submitting images to Getty as ISeemToBeAVerb suggests is much easier said than done (I'm a Getty contributor), although if you're patient it could at least provide you with a little income - lots of competition in the stock world though, and you'd be on your own - not at all the learning experience you'd seem to benefit from. You might be better off asking them about an internship.

Also, if you don't care too much about the pay (or lack of) feel free to send me a portfolio link - I occasionally need an assistant.
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:59 PM on March 18, 2008

Well, as someone who recently graduated with a BFA in photography, let me tell you: it's really hard to get an actual job in photography in NYC. But an internship/part time thing? Especially if you're willing to work for free? Not so impossible.

Occasionally on Craigslist, I see ads for interns and stuff, and while you should apply to them, I'm sure they get tons of responses. (But, on CL, make sure you look under Jobs-->art and Gigs-->creative.) One thing I would suggest is looking up different photographers that are working in/around NYC now, and emailing them. Find them by looking through magazines and writing down photographer's names in the credits/on stories, or looking up gallery shows (a lot of them do commercial work), or in industry mags like PDN.) They all have websites, and all their websites have a way to contact them. Say, "Hi, my name is Del Far, and I'm looking to get more involved in photography - I was wondering if you're looking for any interns or part time help around your studio? I'm hard working, and I'm open to helping out in any way - right now I'm just looking to learn more about the industry." (Don't worry if you're not sure if they have/work in a studio or not.) I do not know any photographer who has turned down free help, and worst case scenario, you waste a few hours. Best case scenario - you become friends with someone who will teach you A LOT, and you have a great reference in the industry. (I've experienced both.)

From what I've experienced, when you're emailing photographers (especially if they're younger/less established), you can be pretty casual about approaching them. I did this a few years ago when I was in school, and I'm still in touch/buddies with the people who I helped out, and they've helped me get jobs.

One thing I can tell you: it's 75% about who you know. If you're a good/hard worker, people will like you. Bonus points if you're chill and easy to talk to. If they like you, they recommend you to their friends, and forward you job openings, and invite you to openings where you'll meet more people, and on and on it goes. It really is a very social industry (as I'm sure most are around these parts).

As far as getting a job at a studio - let me know when you figure it out. Ha! I am looking for full-time stuff, so I'm not really in a position to accept an internship or anything like that, but it might be worth just sending your resume/a letter of interest and following up with a phone call. A lot of times, if places are looking for help, they'll just ask people they know if they know if anyone is looking for part-time work. It's probably boring work (assisting, carrying heavy stuff, making food runs), but you'll meet a lot of people, which is where you'll really reap the benefits of your work.

On preview: lookie that! Blaneyphoto is already looking for an occasional intern/assistant :) email him!
posted by AlisonM at 1:04 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I forgot to include these possibly helpful links....

How to get a job with a photographer.

posted by blaneyphoto at 1:15 PM on March 18, 2008

I interned at VII (which was mentioned above), and have friends who interned at Magnum. These internships are not for people looking to "try out" photography but instead for people looking to learn the business end of high-level photojournalism; I imagine it's the same with internships at galleries/agencies/reps. As you'll find with any photography related job that's not shooting for a newspaper, if your job is to be the photographer, 90% of the job is spent doing things other than taking pictures. With a newspaper, it's probably 50% of the job is not taking pictures. If your job is not to be the photographer, which it won't be as an intern, unless you're at a newspaper, 100% of your job will not involve even touching a camera. In the hiring process for internships at agencies and galleries, your photography will not be mentioned.

The other thing that seems to damage your prospects is that it seems to me that photography is a hobby to you. The people who get these internships usually have already spent a few years working towards a career in the photo industry and definitely plan to be doing something related to photography. For any of the big agencies/galleries/newspapers you'll be competing against people who've already interned or assisted at a few other places and can bring skills to the organization; the photo industry is incredibly competitive. In fact, I know people who've done 5 or 6 newspaper internships by the time they've finished college. New York also probably has the highest number of people like you looking for an internship like what you're describing; you're going to be jumping into a very crowded pool.

The hobbyist bent to your question, too, makes me think that you might really dislike an internship in the photo industry; when your hobby becomes your job (even a part-time job) it can take a lot of the fun out of the hobby. I know when I turned photography into a job I was at a loss for what to do with my spare time.

If you want to shoot, a newspaper is your best bet. All of the deadlines for summer internships have passed already, and so have many deadlines for the fall. Getting an internship at a newspaper is almost always a nationwide competition. I am from Montana, went to college in Seattle, and lived in New York City when I was applying for internships. I got calls from papers in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan, and eventually worked at papers in Illinois and Michigan. I was later told by editors at these papers that there were between 50 and 100 applicants for these positions. And keep in mind that with newspapers, you're going up against every photojournalism major in the country, all of whom have much more experience at shooting newspapery photos than you.

From the types of photography that you mentioned in the question, however, I think the most applicable internship/job is with a local portrait or wedding photographer. While these places are known for high school portraits and weddings, they also take pictures for local businesses' advertisements, provided event coverage for chamber of commerce events, or photograph little league games so parents can buy pictures of their kids playing. Again, with these places, a majority of the work is fielding phone calls, self promotion, post-production and delivery of images, and financial management; I would guess very little time will be spent with a camera, especially as an intern, though I have no experience with this part of the photo industry.

I don't mean to be a downer, but I do want to put things into perspective. Keep in mind that everybody's got to start somewhere....
posted by msbrauer at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2008

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