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Photo Guidelines

We allow and encourage all types of photography. We love to see new photography and watch our users experiment with creative styles and techniques. We are device agnostic, happy to see images from full-frame DSLRs, film cameras, smartphones, and others. Our biggest ask is that the photos stay true to your personal vision and to what you saw. Please avoid heavy-handed processing. We want to see the world through your eyes, not through the excessive use of editing tools. If your photograph is manipulated, please describe your process in the caption. Below are some basic photo guidelines.


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. This includes no baiting the wildlife for photographs. Baiting can cause harm to eating habits of wildlife and we do not condone these actions. This also includes images taken where a photographer may be trespassing or in violation of the rules at a location. For example, if a photo is taken in an area that is closed off to the public to preserve the environment, this would not be allowed.


We insist on truth in captioning and expect full disclosure in the story behind the photo. The description should be complete and accurate. Not only does this establish trust and lend greater credibility to your photo, but it also 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 only be 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.


Cropping is allowed, but composing the image in-camera is always ideal.


Cloning is not allowed. Cloning is the process of adding to or subtracting elements from a photograph. An example would be removing a pole from behind a person’s head in a portrait, adding people to a crowd, or mirroring repetitive objects.


Photographs taken with drones have to be in full compliance with state and federal laws, including specifically aviation laws.

Black and White Photography

Converting your color photos to black and white is acceptable.

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 while creating 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 or stacked image, please indicate so in the caption.


Composites are allowed on Your Shot. To be eligible for publication in National Geographic magazine, the images must be combined parts made at the same time. Don't submit final images where the foreground was shot at noon and the sky at sunset. We the editors do encourage creativity with your photography, as certain select assignments may allow images that are composites taken from different times. Please review what the editor of an assignment will allow or not allow to be submitted. You can read our blog post that goes into more detail on the subject.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

These images are allowed on Your Shot. If your photo is an HDR image, please indicate this in the caption.


We allow filters, including presets, on photographs. We ask that you please include a description of how the style was achieved and which filter or technique was used. Use discretion, however, as over-processed images are not ones that could make it into print publication.

Raw Files

To be eligible for print publication photographers must have a RAW file on hand to be turned over to our editors.


Your Shot always credits the creator of a photo whenever and wherever it appears on the National Geographic site, along with providing a link to their Your Shot profile. Because of this, there's no need to watermark your photo. A small and subtle watermark is allowed but not encouraged—we want to see your photograph without any distractions.

Inappropiate Content

Any content that violates the National Geographic Terms of Service will be removed from the site. This includes inappropriate, pornographic or offensive, or otherwise objectionable content, hate speech, and copyright violations. Your assistance in notifying us of photos or profiles that may violate the Terms of Service is appreciated.