Journal of Wildlife Photography Ethical Photography 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. Therefore, we have compiled the following guidelines, and we advise you to use these points as your guide in all your wildlife photography endeavors. By entering a Journal photo contest entry, you must agree that your photo was taken following these guidelines.

  • 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, photographers 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.
  • Pet or farm animals are not classified as natural for the purposes of the Journal’s photo contests and must not be represented in any photo entries.
  • The Journal may exclude any photo entries where the entrant is suspected of having engaged in any unethical practice in connection with the photo entry.