Graphic Design Student, Courtney Krause describes her experience as a Wildlife and Travel Photography Intern with Africa Media this past summer.
This summer, I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa for a Wildlife & Travel Photography internship with Africa Media. As a part of my internship, I took photographs for clients for business promotional purposes and for the support of conservation efforts. I also worked with Field Specialists who guided me and shared their knowledge to help me better understand my camera and how to take more powerful photographs.
Every day of my internship was an adventure. My main location was in the town of Mossel Bay, which was right on the coast of the Indian Ocean, but we often travelled around the country. Our itinerary wasn’t that of a typical internship. I spent nights in rhino and lion territory, waking up to their roars or the animals at my door. I went cage diving, and floated six inches away from multiple Great White Sharks. I walked with elephants as they ate fruit out of my hands. I got ambushed by baboons who were trying to steal my camera bag.
Some days, however, weren’t as uplifting. As a photographer, I had to be prepared to cover all kinds of stories. Some included a stranded whale, who suffered for hours before it could be euthanized. Others were severely injured wildlife in rehabilitation or the remains of wildlife that were brutally attacked by poachers. These experiences have taught me the importance of conservation. I have been so inspired by the people I have met and by what I have witnessed. I hope the photographs I have taken can have a similar effect on the people who see them.
This has been such a humbling experience. I applied for the internship on a whim and it never crossed my mind that I would actually be accepted. I’ve learned that taking risks brings the greatest rewards. Traveling alone to a foreign country that is three plane rides away was extremely intimidating, but it was the best decision I have ever made. I forgot to pack a few crucial items, I booked my flight on the wrong day, and there were many bumps in the road during my month stay, but I didn’t care. I learned that optimism is key to finding happiness.
The best advice I can give to incoming students is to take risks. You don’t need to travel alone to South Africa to feel the rewards of taking risks. Try something new. This could mean joining a club that is out of your comfort zone or taking extra credits to challenge yourself. During my time at Merrimack I have juggled three part-time jobs, three internships, extra curricular activities, and five classes almost every semester. It definitely was not always easy, but I have never felt so rewarded.
What lies for me after graduating next Spring is still unknown, but I kind of like it that way. Being able to travel more and work as a freelance photographer and graphic designer is my goal. As for where it will take me next, I’m unsure. I’ll just keep taking risks.