How can I be a photographer for National Geographic?

National Geographic photographers are freelancers who come from a wide array of backgrounds. They have different interests, passions, experiences, and have educational backgrounds in a variety of disciplines. They usually have 5 to 10 years of photojournalism experience with other newspapers or magazines and have highly specialized their skills in areas such as wildlife, underwater, landscape, portraiture, cultural, geopolitics and aerial photography.

National Geographic magazine (NGM) selects photographers on an assignment-to-assignment basis. Story proposals are developed internally, with NGM editors meeting regularly to discuss possible story ideas or are submitted by approved photographers and writers. Articles are planned months, sometimes years in advance, and photo assignments are made based on the coverage envisioned. A photographer is given an assignment not because they are the best all-around photographer, but because they are the best photographer to meet the very specific needs of a particular story.

In addition to the magazine’s pool of specialized freelance photographers, National Geographic media also leverages content from National Geographic Explorers. The National Geographic Society (NGS) funds groundbreaking scientists, conservationists, educators, storytellers, and technologists. Every one of them is a National Geographic Explorer – infinitely curious about our planet, committed to understanding it, and passionate about helping make it better. Photographers with projects that demonstrate the power of science and exploration to change the world are encouraged to apply for a Storytelling Grant. While not guaranteed, many of our grantee’s discoveries and scientific breakthroughs are shared with the world through National Geographic magazines, channels and social media.

Whether you are a budding photographer or a seasoned pro -- we welcome and encourage you to join Your Shot. It's a passionate, creative community dedicated to sharing, discussing, and exploring amazing visual stories from around the globe. Members of the community, including some of our photo editors, regularly provide feedback on photos. Favorites are published online and in National Geographic magazine, giving photographers of all levels the opportunity for exposure.  


Our Photography website is full of great content, including photo tips from our pros and our series Through the Lens where you get to know the photographers behind the images featured in National Geographic.

The book Getting Your Shot has specific tips from Nat Geo photographers and photo experts.

Check out this short video where National Geographic photographers and editors share their experiences working together to create the images that have captivated, inspired, and moved our readers.

The Photo Society is a website run by National Geographic contributing photographers.

And finally, experience the world through the eyes of National Geographic photographer’s by following us on Instagram @natgeo.
We hope you find this information helpful and wish you luck with your photography!

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