Code of Conduct

The NPN Code of Conduct is a suggested set of guidelines for governing our conduct while in the field. These guidelines are a living document, a growing compilation of suggestions from the members of the Nature Photographers Network.

If you have any questions or comments regarding these guidelines, please contact us at

All Nature Photography

When in the field, we are ambassadors for the nature photography community as a whole. As such, always show respect and consideration for the environment, for our photographic subjects, as well as for other people;

  • Respect the rights of non-photographers to enjoy a scene as well – don’t set up your gear in front of another group or person and ruin their enjoyment.
  • When near another photographer who has already set up to photograph, be sure to not get in their way (or in their photo).
  • Be kind and courteous to anyone who inadvertently gets into your photo.
  • When a non-photographer has a question about your activity or gear, take a moment to answer them in a congenial fashion. Offering the curious onlooker a view through the camera will often work wonders.
  • NEVER leave any trash behind! Consider bringing a plastic garbage bag to collect a little along your way to leave it better than you found it.
  • If on public land, respect restrictions to entry. If any permits (such as entry, campfire or filming) are required, obtain them. Be sure that you understand any special instructions.
  • Respect the rights of property owners. If you wish to photograph on private land, obtain permission from the owner, or his designee.
  • Leave gates as you find them. If a gate is open when you arrive, leave it open when you depart, and vice versa.
  • Do not interfere, tamper, disturb, alter or otherwise manipulate the natural environment, landscape, or objects within the environment in such a way that could lead to temporary or permanent defacement or destruction

Special Wildlife Photography Considerations

“The subject and the habitat are more important than the photograph.”

  • First study the species you want to photograph. Make sure that you can recognize signs of stress.
  • Never let your presence cause the animal any stress. If there is a sign of stress, pull back.
  • Familiarize yourself with the local rules concerning wildlife, such as the minimum distance to be kept between you and the animals, and be sure to obey them.
  • Keep in mind that the animals are always unpredictable.
  • Keep in mind that you are intruding on the animal’s world – you are its guest. Conduct your activity accordingly and leave whenever your host gives even the slightest hint that you are no longer welcome.
  • Except for responsible practices to attract birds, do not entice a wild animal with food (baiting) in order to get the photo. Allow the animal to be wild, and to move about on its own accord. Note – photos of live-baited birds are prohibited in the NPN Avian Gallery. Photos of baited wildlife are prohibited in the NPN Wildlife Gallery.
  • If You Feed Birds: do not feed birds without first learning how to do it responsibly, to avoid harming them or causing negative human-wildlife problems. As a start, NPN strongly recommends completely reading A Guide to Bird Feeding by Audubon. Wildlife Management Agencies may also have bird feeding advice specific to your area.
  • Consider using a blind or camouflage to bring the subject within photo range without disturbing it.
  • Use a lens of long enough focal length to avoid approaching the subject too closely. Also, consider composing your photos to show more of the animal’s environment.

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