Photographer is a highly sought after role in the NZDF. You will go on operational deployments and exercises to document our activity, you will capture our military ceremonies and major events, and conduct studio photography tasks. You can expect to travel in all of our military aircraft and ships and work alongside our Defence Force personnel.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
  • Location
  • Starting Salary
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About the role

Photographer is a highly sought after role in the NZDF. You will go on operational deployments and exercises to document our activity, you will capture our military ceremonies and major events, and conduct studio photography tasks. You can expect to travel in all of our military aircraft and ships and work alongside our Defence Force personnel in a variety of situations – anywhere from a tent in New Zealand to an international operational base.

Job on base

Your tasks will mainly be in support of Defence Force public affairs activities, either capturing images that document real-time activity or setting up scenes to meet a specific brief (such as recruitment collateral). You will also attend ceremonies, military parades and sporting events to capture images for use in our internal publications - Air Force News, Navy Today and Army News. They may also be used by external agencies in both online and print media.

You will support digital media activity, processing your images quickly for use online within our websites and social media channels. You will also be required to accurately and efficiently share and archive your work, recording detailed meta-data.

At times, you may work on more technical projects with other Defence Force units capturing, processing and presenting images that document technical component defects, equipment repairs and specifications for component and equipment modification. Your technical skills are also required to record aircraft and vehicle incidents, document evidence at fire and crime scenes, and capture medical and dental information.

Job on deployment

You will be tasked with capturing our operational activity, constantly prioritising your tasks in order to ensure you are best located to document both planned and spontaneous important events. This includes capturing air-to-air and hand-held air-to-ground images, as well as the activities of our personnel in the field. You will also support Defence Force national and international activities.

You will have a unique opportunity to interact with members across the Defence Force, of all ranks, trades and units. You will be trained in how the many and varied parts of the wider Defence Force operate, and you will constantly need to effectively combine excellent communication, creative and technical skills in order to get the best results from within often very challenging environments.

Operational photographic images captured by Air Force Photographers are often released by the Defence Force to external media, so your work will be published both nationally and internationally.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

After you have gained experience, potentially including time spent with other Defence Force units and attending many operational deployments, you will be given greater responsibilities.

As a senior Photographer you will manage digital imagery production and equipment, and you’ll provide training and mentoring for newly appointed military photographers. You may fill leadership roles where you will task, train, supervise and lead teams of photographers.

(12 weeks) Location: RNZAF base Woodbourne (near Blenheim)

Upon successful enlistment into the Air Force you’ll undergo basic military training to find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air Force, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid, and Search and Rescue Techniques
  • Physical Fitness

You will be required to have all the skills needed to be a professional photographer prior to applying for this role. You will be mentored by a senior photographer during your first twelve months, receiving on the job training to familiarise you with Defence Force equipment, structure and protocols, and training in NZDF imagery processes and policy.


(4 weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne

Twelve months after basic military training you’ll be required to attend the Corporal Promotion Course. This promotion course, conducted at Command and Recruit Training Squadron, is designed to assist RNZAF personnel in a smooth transition to the responsibilities associated with the rank of Corporal.

Corporal Promotion Course is part of the continuum of RNZAF training. It builds on the experiences and training from the previous ranks, and prepares you, not only for the new rank, but also for future promotions that may lie ahead. The key components of the course are:

  • Leadership (theory and practical)
  • Communication (written, verbal)
  • Service law
  • Drill

All elements of the course combine together to provide students with tools to perform effectively as a Corporal in the RNZAF.

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.




starting salary


Higher rank

Benefits and allowances

There are many additional benefits to being in the Defence Force, that will make your money go further.

For example, on top of your basic salary you can expect ‘Military Factor’. This provides you with significant extra financial rewards because of the commitment you’ve made to serve your country.

Free medical and dental

Access to subsidised equipment on base

Subsidised food on base

Competitive superannuation, up to 4% with KiwiSaver

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Entry requirements



Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

  • You must be 17 years or older.
  • Computer skills, with experience in photo-editing software.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade.
  • A full Class 1 drivers licence preferred, but must hold a Restricted Class 1 drivers licence.

A tertiary qualification (minimum 2 year Diploma) in Photography.

You must be medically fit for service.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required SV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.


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