Learning on the job at the Sydney Morning Herald

Queensland College of Art photography student Isabella Porras
Queensland College of Art photography student Isabella Porras

Queensland College of Art student Isabella Porras covered everything from bushfires to climate change rallies during a life-changing internship at The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Bachelor of Photography student completed a one-month rotation at the newspaper – a dream come true for the aspiring photojournalist.

“I was thrown head first into the newsroom during the height of the bushfires, so it was very intense, but it was amazing to see how the team operated in a crisis,” she said.

Learning on the job

Photo: Isabella Porras / Sydney Morning Herald

A host of Isabella’s photographs were published in the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review, including several stunning portraits of firefighters featured in a 16-page spread on the bushfires.

“There is no better feeling than seeing your photos appear under the headlines every day,” she said.

“The Sydney Morning Herald is great at getting their interns out on the road and I was treated like a proper photographer.

“The bushfire crisis was unfolding in front of me, so I was forced to think on my feet and be prepared for whatever was thrown at me.

“It was a huge learning curve, but it confirmed to me that this is what I want to do after I graduate.”

Creating images with impact

The talented photographer grew up in the Solomon Islands.

After picking up her Mum’s old Pentax as a child, she quickly discovered a passion for photography. Her earliest influences included Queensland College of Art alumnus Adam Ferguson, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Time magazine and National Geographic.

“His work really struck a chord with me, and I’m passionate about photography that creates some influence in a community, however small,” she said.

Isabella behind the lens during a study tour to India.

“Growing up in the Solomons, there is a lot of pollution and the seas are rising, and I can use my photos to communicate these kinds of issues.

“It’s not just point and shoot, it’s about being a visual storyteller.”

It is a case of have camera, will travel for the young photographer. During her time at the Queensland College of Art, Isabella has been part of a one-month study tour to India and will join an upcoming QCA trip to the Arctic.

A bright future ahead

Queensland College of Art photography program director Dr Heather Faulkner said Isabella was an “outstanding” student who had taken every opportunity offered at the QCA.

“Bella was part of the pop-up newsroom during the Integrity20 Conference and she has put her put hand up for study tours to India and the Arctic,” she said.

“These kind of learning opportunities allow students to develop skills valued by employers.

“Bella is an outstanding student and has a bright future ahead of her.”