JOWP Editorial Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in writing for the Journal of Wildlife Photography! The Journal is a quarterly, subscription-based digital publication that provides workshop-level training for wildlife photographers around the world seeking to elevate their knowledge and skills. It is also part of a larger educational platform for wildlife photographers that offers online courses, video trainings, ebooks, a subscriber-exclusive online community, and more.

The Journal has a circulation of more than 16,000 subscribers, and we have tens of thousands of additional prospects who subscribe to our email list or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

All articles are written on a freelance basis by experienced wildlife photographers with education to share. Generally, the photos that accompany an article are taken by the writer. We welcome a diversity of voices and perspectives.

Our Audience

Our readers are wildlife photographers of all skill levels who wish to improve their knowledge of the subjects in front of their camera as well as their skills behind it so they can prepare as much as possible to execute and capture the best photos they can. Our audience is global and spans all ages and genders. The average subscriber is male, lives in the United States, is between 25 and 44 years of age, and identifies as an intermediate-level hobbyist photographer.

Our Content

The Journal publishes educational articles focused on photographic techniques, wildlife behavior, practical photography tips, ethics, conservation, destinations, gear, and more. Our readers want to learn about both animal behavior and the technical aspects of wildlife photography, and we aim to satisfy their inquiries while introducing them to how much more there is out there to learn.

We stress the importance of knowing your subject, as familiarity with a species allows a photographer to anticipate behavior and execute great shots. We don’t anthropomorphize the wildlife subjects we feature, but we emphasize the importance of conservation in our messaging and encourage people to use their photography for the benefit of the animals they’re photographing. That said, we’re careful to avoid being preachy. People are primarily coming to the Journal for photography education, so any conservation messaging we put forth has to be delivered with that objective in mind.

We also emphasize the value of photographing backyard wildlife. Excellent photography can be created with local subjects, and commonplace species are just as worthwhile to photograph as charismatic megafauna.

All photography we publish should inspire and motivate our readers to improve their own photographic skills to be able to emulate the high quality shown in our articles.

Pitching Guidelines

Before you pitch us, we ask you to familiarize yourself with these writers’ guidelines and review a recent issue to make your pitch as targeted as possible for our voice and our audience. If you are not a subscriber, you can review a recent issue here. We do not publish unsolicited manuscripts. Please submit a detailed pitch and wait for a response from us before you begin writing an article.

A pitch should include your topic, your argument, ideas for an angle or outline, a few relevant, low-resolution photos you’ve taken on the subject, and some information on your credentials as a photographer and writer. If you have a portfolio of photos or published articles, please share that as well. Once you’ve crafted your pitch, please email it to Journal Editor Danielle Phillippi at [email protected]. We will review your submission and follow up with you soon.

Assignment Guidelines

If we accept your pitch, we will work out specific assignment details with you regarding word counts, photo requirements, formatting, deadlines, pay rates, publication dates, etc. After that, we’ll ask you to provide a proposed outline for your article so we can work out any necessary changes to your article’s structure or angle before you flesh out the text.

Please write an engaging, keyword-friendly headline that tells the reader what they’ll get out of reading your article, solves a problem they may be experiencing, and/or motivates them to keep reading. 

Use active voice throughout your text, and make education your focus. Keep in mind that you should not be the subject of your article. If it’s helpful and illustrative to briefly mention some of your own experiences to provide real-world context, that’s OK as long as it’s not too heavy-handed. However, if you find yourself using “I, me, my” a lot, reconsider your perspective and reframe the article so the focus is on the wildlife or camera education you’re providing.

Go beyond your own knowledge and do some research and interviews on your subject. We welcome a range of perspectives in an article.

In general, we follow the Chicago Manual of Style and have developed a house style guide to supplement that, which you can see here (JOWP House Style Guide). When you submit, please try to adhere to these style guidelines as much as you’re able so the copy you submit is as close to final form as possible. In particular, take note of our style on species names, numbers, measurements, locations, italics, and photo specs.

At the end of your article, include a bio a paragraph or two in length, and include any professional websites or social media links you’d like to have published with your work. Also, include a headshot of yourself.

Submit your photos as jpgs sized at least 2800 pixels on the long side, saved at 72dpi for web. Save all images with file names in this format: YourFirstName-YourLastName-IssueSeason-IssueYear-ImageNumber.jpg (e.g., John-Smith-Summer-2023-1.jpg). If you’d like, you can include notes in your article about your choice for an opening image and ideal points to place particular photos, but you don’t need to, and we may not be able to accommodate all requests.

With each photo, submit a caption written in full sentences, and include information such as the wildlife subject with both common and species names, the location where the photo was taken, how what’s happening in the image relates to your article text, and how the circumstance of the day and your objectives for your photo dictated your settings choices. Caption text should add to the education provided in the article and not just repeat information already provided. 

At the end of each caption, include a line that lists, at a minimum, the camera and lens used and the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in this format: Camera name | Lens name | Aperture (formatted as f/5.6) | Shutter speed (formatted as 1/3200) | ISO (formatted as ISO 200). If relevant, feel free to include additional gear and settings information.

We pay our contributors via PayPal and need an invoice for each completed assignment. Please include your name, a brief description of the assignment, the issue, your submission date, and the username or email address associated with your PayPal account, and submit your invoice when you turn in your article and photos. Payment will be issued after final edits on your article are complete.

Please submit your article as a Word document and your photos as jpgs. You can send your documents as email attachments or via a file-transfer program like Dropbox or WeTransfer.

Ethical Guidelines

Overall, the Journal takes the stance that a photographer’s presence should not affect an animal’s behavior, but there are a lot of ways to interpret that perspective, and we recognize that one photographer’s experience may lead them to avoid practices another photographer may find perfectly acceptable. 

However, as a leading voice in the field of wildlife photography, we want to encourage ethical practices in the field, in post-processing, and in publication, and we rely on our contributors to set a good example for our readers. Use the following points as your guide:

  • Photographers should not employ live bait to attract, manipulate, or control wildlife subjects.
  • Photographers should not harass or forcibly interact with wildlife subjects. Photographed subjects must not appear stressed by the presence of the photographer.
  • Photographers should not approach or photograph an animal from a close distance that may cause alarm or harm. In particular, photographers should not take wide-angle/macro images of nesting birds.
  • Photographers should avoid employing flash when photographing nocturnal subjects.
  • Photographers should avoid habitat disturbance when in natural surroundings. Cultivated environments such as backyard bird setups are OK, but in general, contributors should ensure that they minimize any impact that their presence has on their subject and its surrounding environment.
  • Photographers should be transparent in captioning and disclose if a subject is captive, if specialty equipment like drones or camera traps were employed, and if any attractants were used.
  • Photographers must abide by all local laws, rules, regulations, and conservation requirements.

After Publication

We share word of our issues and individual articles on our Facebook page and group, our Instagram page, our dedicated online community for Journal subscribers, and our email list, and we encourage you to share the news on your own social media channels. The Journal is a collaborative effort between staff and contributors, and we all pitch in to reach prospective audiences.

If you’d like to become an affiliate salesperson for the Journal, let us know! We can set you up with a dedicated link you can share with your followers that allows them to subscribe to the Journal and get a free ebook as a bonus. Affiliate salespeople earn a commission for each subscription sold via their affiliate link.

Thank you again for your interest in writing for the Journal of Wildlife Photography! If you have any questions about these guidelines, feel free to reach out to Editor Danielle Phillippi at [email protected].