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 Trade Training
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About the role

As an Air Force photographer you will be a passionate and skilled professional, as well as an artist and a story teller, determined to capture moments or people in the most captivating way, continually pushing for new angles or trying techniques not explored before.

Operating throughout New Zealand, and occasionally overseas, you will have access to unique occasions and outstanding people to produce extraordinary portrait, commercial, documentary, landscape, and technical photography.

The imagery you capture of military activities on local exercises or overseas deployments, photojournalism of major events and ceremonies, and studio photography will be published across the internet and social media, through press releases and print media, and in advertising campaigns.

Job on base

You will join a tight-knit team of highly skilled photographers and will work alongside the video and design teams within the creative department of Defence Public Affairs (DPA). Your tasks will mainly support public affairs activities by documenting real-time activity or setting up scenes to meet a specific brief (such as recruitment collateral). You will attend ceremonies, military parades and sporting events to capture images for use online, in our internal news publications or by external agencies.


You’ll support digital media activity, processing your images quickly for use within our websites and social media channels. You will also be required to accurately caption 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, whether that be in the outdoors of NZ, travelling on a ship, in the air or overseas. As a result, you’ll need to maintain flexibility for frequent late night or early morning activity. You will respond at short notice to natural disasters and local emergencies showcasing the humanitarian aid and disaster relief provided by the NZDF. Photograph our personnel in the field and capture aerial images of the ground, other aircraft, ships and vehicles.


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 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.

Life as a Defence Photographer

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.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Possess strong computer skills, with experience in photo-editing software.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade.
  • Must hold a Restricted driver licence (Full Class 1 driver licence is preferred)

Portfolio submissions

Once you've registered and applied online, your application will be reviewed by a Candidate Engagement Facilitator (CEF). If you meet the minimum entry requirements, you will then be required to submit a portfolio showcasing your recent work. View our portfolio submission guidance.

A tertiary qualification (at least a level 6 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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