Photographer Ethics



North American Nature Photograph Association (NANPA) believes that following these practices promotes the well-being of the location, subject and photographer. Every place, plant and animal, whether above or below the water, is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time. Therefore one must always exercise good individual judgment. It is NANPA’s belief that these principles will encourage all who participate in the enjoyment of nature to do so in a way that promotes good stewardship of the resource.


Learn patterns of animal behavior so as not to interfere with animal life cycles.

Do not distress wildlife or their habitat. Respect the routine needs of animals.

Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals. If an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens.

Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem. Stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact.


When appropriate, inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose.

Help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety.

Learn the rules and laws of the location. If minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them.

In the absence of management authority, use good judgment.Treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest.

Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events.Avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps.


Treat others courteously. Ask before joining others already shooting in an area.

Tactfully inform others if you observe them in engaging in inappropriate or harmful behavior. Many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals.

Report inappropriate behavior to proper authorities. Don’t argue with those who don’t care; report them.

Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen. Educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding.

North American Nature Photography Association 

3 Responses to Photographer Ethics

  1. Pat Bumstead says:

    All of the copyrights to photos on our site belong to whoever wrote the blog post. If you were a big commercial artist I would say you should contact them directly. However, if you’re selling your work at small local exhibits I don’t think any of them would have a problem with you using a photograph.

  2. You have a wonderful site full of beautiful
    Vancouver island birds.
    I did not find a copyright notice on your site.
    I am 78, an artist now since a young adult.
    I have painted many large canvas but now
    due to arthritis in my hands, am now painting
    What rules do you have about copyright for
    your photos for artists who sell their work,
    mind you small local Island exhibits and
    reasonable prices with art group members.
    Thank you
    Gaylia Nelson

  3. Faye Esther says:

    Great overall guidelines. I would like to point out a few important points photographers should be mindful of. It is generally known that one of the best time of year to photograph birds is during breeding season. In most locations this is in spring (March to May/June). I have seen in a lot of places I have been, photographers using bird calls to bring in birds closer. It is advisable to refrain from this practice. It disturbs the normal behavior of the birds especially in breeding season. The calls sometimes cause the birds to react in an unnatural manner and may even become aggressive towards breeding partners. This topic is very controversial and I think it is best to respect the natural patterns and behavior during breeding season.

    Another factor I would like to point out is the use of flash photography by amateur photographers. This disturbs the breeding birds and any other animals around. Please go to your birding destination with the attitude that you are a visitor to their home. Respect the natural environment and bird habitat and refrain from using flash photography.

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