Your Shot Photo Guidelines

We encourage you to submit photographs that are real. We want to see the world through your eyes, not through photo editing tools.

Please do not digitally enhance or alter your photographs beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. If you have digitally added or removed anything, don't submit the shot. We look at every photo contribution to review its overall authenticity and will not publish any image that does not meet these guidelines. And depending on the violation, your photo may be removed from Your Shot.

ETHICS: National Geographic supports ethical photography that accurately represents cultures, ecosystems, and wildlife.  We expect that the welfare of people, animals, and their environments take precedence over photography. In other words, don’t harm or manipulate the subject or its environment for the sake of creating an image.

CAPTION: We insist on truth in captioning and expect full disclosure in the story behind the photo. Your description should be complete and accurate. Not only does this establish trust and lend greater credibility to your photo, it increases the engagement of the viewer.

BURNING AND DODGING: Brightening or darkening specific areas in an image is allowed, but should be kept to a minimum and not done to the point where it is obvious. Your goal in using digital darkroom techniques should be only to adjust the dynamic tonal range and color balance of an image so that it more closely resembles what you saw, and communicates the mood of the scene.

SOLARIZATION, MEZZOTINT, DUOTONE, ETC.: If you use one of the myriad “enhancement filters" available in your digital photo software, your image will not be considered for publication.

STITCHED PANORAMAS: These are allowed only if the segments were all made within the same time frame. Don't create panoramas with sections made at significantly different times. Do not change focal length when you create a stitched image. Do not stretch the meaning of panorama to include elements that weren't in the scene as you saw it. If your photo is a stitched image, please indicate so in the caption. (A stitched panorama is created from multiple photos, each taken at a different angle of view from the same position, then combined using digital techniques. It results in a wider view than can be achieved with most wide-angle lenses.)

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR): These shots are allowed only if the combined parts are made at the same time. Don't submit final images where the foreground was shot at noon and the sky at sunset. If your photo is an HDR image, please indicate this in the caption. (An HDR image is created from multiple images of exactly the same scene, made rapidly but at different exposures, and then combined using digital darkroom techniques. The final image, when done successfully, produces a final image with a greater dynamic range than is possible with a single exposure.)

FILE SIZE: If you look around Your Shot, you'll see that this community is centered around high quality, particularly as it relates to file size. Truly, the optimal resolution for a photo is the largest you can provide. Don't hesitate to upload your photos at their original image resolution. When it comes to viewing Your Shot content on iOS devices, the bigger the image file, the better the viewing experience.

WATERMARKS AND BORDERS: Your Shot always credits the author of a photo whenever and wherever it appears on the site, along with a link to your profile. So there's no need to watermark your photo. Additionally, skip the frames and artistic borders supplied with some editing apps—both detract from the overall viewing experience.

GET TO KNOW GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY: The great thing about rules is that many are meant to be broken—even in photography. While there are some technical principles to making a good photograph, often simply capturing a moment can make a picture count. As you search and experiment for your own recipe for becoming a great photographer, get to know good photography by looking at it. Take a tour of the images that show up in the pages of our magazines and books, across our website, and in our apps.