Vital Impacts Ethical Guidelines

Photography shares our personal stories with the world, but also in the interaction of the photographer with those people and places they are documenting. We expect that the photographers we work with will approach the world with respect and represent it truthfully. 

Our guidelines for ethical practice in environmental photography are as follows: 

Be respectful of those you photograph.  

Explain your goals as a photographer and allow those whose stories you tell to understand the photographic process and what their participation means for them.

Represent those you photograph truthfully and with dignity. 

Avoid stereotypes and simplistic narratives. 

Be aware of your own biases. Do not let them inform your reporting.

Respect cultural values and traditions.

Do not alter images beyond traditional cropping and toning.

Do not plagiarize. 

Do not copy text from other sources verbatim and do not copy photographs. 

Do not submit or present someone else's photo as your own.

Captions should be truthful. 

Do not alter situations beyond anything that would occur by virtue of your being present. Do not move objects or stage actions, except when clearly participating in a deliberate reenactment. Any deliberate reenactments should be noted in caption information.

When photographing portraits, it should be clear that the photograph was a portrait and that direction was given. If it is not clear, please note it in caption information.

Do not cause distress. Give special consideration to those who are vulnerable. 

Maintain a respectful distance between yourself and those you photograph. 

When photographing wildlife, do not do anything that would cause the animal fear or stress. 

Do not bait or coerce wildlife. 

Tread gently and reduce any possibility of damage you may inflict on the natural world. 

Do not pay or offer other compensation to those you are documenting. Do not accept payment or compensation from those whose stories you intent to share. 

Follow all local laws. 

Be respectful to your fellow photographers, journalists and other documentarians.

These guidelines were informed by the Catchlight Ethical Guidelines, by the NPPA Code of Ethics, the World Press Photo Contest Code of Ethics and the ILCP Ethical Guidelines