Photo Guidelines for Freelance Photographers

Nature Friend Magazine

A publication of Dogwood Ridge Outdoors


for Professional Photographers

August 2020

We encourage serious photographers to also be subscribers so you can more easily see the type of photographs we want, and how we use them.

Please label every submission with your name, address, and phone number. Emailed submissions should use a meaningful subject in the subject line, to sumarize the content of the attached photo. Example of good subject lines, “Elk,” or “Elk bugling,” or “Trip to Yellowstone.” Examples of subject lines not valuable to us, “Attention Editor,” “1 of 5 photos,” “2 of 5 photos,” etc. Meaningful subjects help us zero in more quickly. Non-meaningful subjects are easily skipped over.

We have several on-going photographic needs, and I’ll mention them first.

Back Cover:

Six times a year, we want a gorgeous nature-related photograph, and it can be on any topic. Unlike the front cover, this photo does not need to relate to an article within the magazine. We are looking for a vertical image with room at the bottom for address information.

Caption This Feature/Back Cover:

For the alternating six months, we want a humorous photo that will work well for readers to caption. This photo will first appear inside the magazine in our “Caption This” feature. Four months later the photo will be used on the back cover along with a selection of captions from those submitted by readers.

Caption This Back Cover

The Story Behind the Photo:

This feature used to be a regular feature, but not so much any more. However, the content of this feature still makes a good submission for us. If we choose to use the story/photo package, we would run it under an applicable title as opposed to “Story Behind the Photo.” With this disclaimer, here are the specs.

We use this feature to showcase excellent nature photos. Along with the photo, we need a couple of paragraphs from the photographer telling about the events leading up to the opportunity to capture the photograph. We do not need technical camera settings, rather the story leading up to the opportunity. Occasionally technical information may be so much a part of the story that you want to include it, and that is okay. However, most of our readers are not looking for technical information.

Click for sample of photos with longer stories

Click for sample of photos with shorter stories

Let’s Take a Hike:

This is a fun photograph just inside the front cover that may or may not have a paragraph or two of text about it. When a caption can add interest or identity to the subject of the photograph, we like to see some text. Other times, a gorgeous photograph may stand by itself on its own merits.

End of the Trail:

This feature is the inside back cover page, and, like the “Let’s Take a Hike” feature, showcases a gorgeous photo on any nature topic.  We like to have a paragraph or three telling something about how the photo was gotten, or something interesting about the photo.

Monthly Selections:

Photographs are selected, month-by-month, based on articles selected that need illustrations, along with a front and back cover photo. What this means to a photographer is that photographs are secondary to writings and cannot be anticipated and selected far in advance. Photographic submissions that require us to return material in a specified number of weeks will likely not be useful to us.

High resolution photographs that are available to us when we make selections have a much greater likelihood of being selected than photos we need to order. We often select photos in the hours prior to sending the file to the printer and this often happens at night.

Likewise, high resolution jpeg attachments to emails get reviewed much more frequently than a CD of photos. You may send photos via e-mail saved as a jpeg file on the 10 setting. When emailing photos to us, please follow these steps:

  • Put a meaningful subject line in the subject field of the email. Keep one basic subject per email.
    • Good examples: “Northern Cardinals,” “Northern Cardinals 1 of 4,” or “Hike to Blackwater Falls”
    • Bad examples: “1 of 6 photos,” “more photos,” “photo submission”
    • Think of it this way. If I recall seeing a photo of a starfish that I want to find again, by looking for “Starfish” I can find the photo and increase chances of selecting yours. If you said, “photo submission” in your subject line, chances are great I’ll get a photo from another source. Make it easy for us to select your work by sending quality photos that are well marked.
  • Use a jpeg compression of 10 or higher, and attach to email. Photos embedded in the email or some slide program are more complicated to extract, save with a meaningful file name. Send attachments whenever possible.
  • Sending a half dozen or so high resolution photos per email is good. Avoid sending really large amounts.
  • Keep one subject per email. If I want your starfish photo to be considered in the June issue, and your white-tailed buck photo to be considered for the November issue, I need two emails. If you send us one email and I put it in June, I’ll be less likely to see the buck photos in November.

A CD will almost never be reviewed if it does not include a printout of photos so we can review the content quickly in that way. We just don’t load a hundred CDs to see what might be on them, as it is far too labor intensive for zeroing in quickly on a subject. If you submit CDs with a contact sheet of photos, be sure to include name, address, and phone number with all submissions, and on all hard copies. Hard copies includes CDs and every sheet of paper.

We respect photographers as copyright holders of their work. For photos we select for publishing, we send payment at the same time we send a complimentary copy. We purchase rights to use in our project, not exclusive rights. In no way does copyright ownership transfer to us.


  • When we are on a deadline, high resolution images in-house are more valuable than small photos that require ordering.
  • High resolution photos may be emailed as jpeg saved at the “10” setting if prompted. Emailed photos are reviewed more frequently than mailed CDs.  When a submission is emailed, please use meaningful subject line so we can more easily find photos. Ideally, one topic per email. Multiple emails are fine. Please do not send lots of unrelated photos in one email.
  • Keep material coming for our on-going needs, including photos with background stories.
  • Put address and phone number(s) on all communication including CDs, so we can easily know how to get in touch.
  • While we appreciate high resolution images on CDs as noted, we are increasingly using e-mailed communication/photos over looking through the notebooks.  Computers can crash, so notebooks are a good thing too.  However, you are welcome to send material via e-mail.
  • Content: We are about wild nature.  Very rarely do we use domestic animals, birds, plants, etc.  Also, obvious zoo backgrounds are not useful to us.  If we have need for zebra photos, we will use wild zebras.  Fences and buildings in background do not work well for us.
  • I’m sure this is obvious, but we are looking for technically sharp, artistically pleasing photos.  I must mention this because some folks send in the whole spectrum of what they have shot.  Please edit your work and send only the best.
  • Caption photos. Don’t send flowers, birds, animals, etc., without saying what kind they are.
  • Photo file names should always include a unique number that cross-references to text about the number. Don’t say picture five is… and picture six is… referring to the order the photos are attached in the email, rather use a unique file name number for ID.
  • Give us a reason to want your work. Besides technically good photos, a meaningful caption, story, photography lesson, or photo essay will give us additional content that might nudge a selection in your direction. Without a reason to publish a given photo subject, slots for use are very limited. Why wait until we find someone else’s story that your photo can illustrate? Doing so decreases your chances in that it might be a long time before someone writes about flying squirrels, and when they do, we may go to your photos first when looking for flying squirrel photos. Both factors reduce chances your flying squirrel photos will get selected for use.
  • Always include full name, address, phone number with each email. We often call a photographer when time is tight who, otherwise might not be contacted should we need to wait for reply to an email. To send correspondence or submissions with first name only and no contact info does not look professional and stands a great chance of a quick desposit into the “deleted” folder.


We pay $75 for front cover, $50 for back cover, and $25 for inside editorial use.

Contact Information:

Nature Friend Magazine is published monthly by Dogwood Ridge Outdoors.

Kevin D. Shank
Nature Friend Magazine
Photo Department
4253 Woodcock Lane
Dayton, VA 22821

(E-mail address below disguised so as to not attract spam)
E-mail: photos (at sign) naturefriendmagazine (dot) com
www: naturefriendmagazine dot com

Office: 540-867-0764
Fax: 540-867-9516
Subscriptions: 877-434-0765