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 summarize 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 ongoing 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 in the top left corner for address information.

bull elk bugling in mountains

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.

wolf in snow

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.

woodpeckers on tree with red berries
Male Hairy Woodpecker (top) and female Downy Woodpecker (bottom). Photo © Alan Schroeder.

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.

Orion Nebula (M42) and Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977). The Orion Nebula is one of the most splendid nebulas to enjoy through a telescope. While our eyes see a bluish white nebula, photography can pick up the hydrogen alpha light our eyes are not sensitive to, revealing these fun colors. Photo © Kevin & Adrian Shank.

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. When emailing photos to us, please follow these steps:

  • Put a meaningful subject line in the subject field of the 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”
    • 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.
  • Send well-labeled jpeg attachments, saved at 300 ppi and a compression setting of 10 or higher. Please avoid embedding images in the email body.
  • Avoid sending very large quantities of photos per email.
  • 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.


  • Email photos as high-resolution (300 ppi) jpeg attachments. Please use a meaningful subject line so we can find photos easily. Please do not send lots of unrelated photos in one email; each email should contain only one topic.
  • Keep material coming for our ongoing 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.
  • 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 the 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 your 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? Providing an article, story, or photo essay increases your chances of being published.
  • Always include your full name, address, and 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 deposit 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.

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

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

Office: 540-947-1636
Fax: 540-867-9516