Photo Guidelines and Policies

Guidelines and suggestions for photography contributions to Sport Fishing


January 27, 2017

Sport Fishing magazine continues to emphasize the finest saltwater fishing photography to be found in any magazine. Much of that comes from freelance professionals.

Photography Rates

Sport Fishing‘s payment schedule (We normally secure All Rights.):

(Second rate listed is for stop-action/aerial/underwater images)

Cover — $1,200 ($1,200)
2-Page Spread — $350 ($400)
1+ Page — $250 ($300)
Full Page — $200 ($250)
1/2+ Page — $150 ($200)
1/2 Page — $125 ($175)
1/3 Page — $100 ($125)
Spot (less than 1/3) — $75 ($100)


Online-only — $25 ($50)

Sequential photos no larger than spot size are paid at the rate of $200 per page.

Photo Payments

Payment is processed when an issue has shipped to the printer, and usually sent out in 30 to 60 days. Payment is normally issued to the photographer credited on the image; if any other payment arrangement is to be honored, you must state clearly: “Payment to: _________.” Please note that Sport Fishing does not pay research or shipping fees without prior approval.


Acceptable Photography Formats

We prefer that you send digital images. If you want us to have the option to run images very large, please send RAW files — along with lo-rez JPGs for quick review. These can be uploaded to our FTP site by arrangement, simply sent via a file-sharing website or on CD. We will also use JPGs if sharp, but note that the maximum size will be determined by the image size at 300 dpi. Please do not alter in any way original digital files — send us undoctored images; our art director and prepress professionals will make such adjustments if/as necessary. CDs with digital images should be marked clearly with photographer and content info; if possible include a color hardcopy with thumbnails.

We can and do use prints but not often and not by preference. If the use of print film precludes slides, prints can be used — always best if they’re at least 8×10 and high quality. Alternatively the negatives can be sent; we can scan from those.

Return Policy

It remains our fundamental goal to review and send out photos or slides not selected within a few days of receipt. We do not ordinarily hold photos at all unless we have a projected possible use. A tracking sheet will be included with images returned showing which slides are being kept and for what purpose.



If we call and request photography quickly, we’ll reimburse for shipping. (We ship back via FedEx Saver.) Sport Fishing cannot be responsible for images once in the possession of FedEx or other carriers.

Over-the-Transom Submissions

When in doubt, e-mail it. We’re always happy to review images, whether solicited or unsolicited (and since we won’t hold those for which we see no specific, possible use, there’s little to lose and much to gain).


Don’t hesitate to check with us any time you have any general or specific questions about photo needs, submissions or payment. We prefer e-mail, but will take calls/faxes if e-mail is not possible.


Suggestions for Photography Contributors

1. Don’t Send Us Fuzzy Shots!

Instead, give us photos that are, by any measure, “tack sharp.” Every day we see otherwise great shots precluded from use by being too “soft.” There’s just not much point in sending any images that are not sharp — check them yourself with an 8x loupe (and with as critical an eye as possible!).

2. Avoid Inanimate “Grin & Grab” Shots

Send us images of people animated as they hold fresh (preferably lively) but not bloody fish. Counteract the dreaded Zombie Stare Syndrome. Have subject interacting with someone else if available. (Have ’em hold fish together and look at/talk to each other — while forgetting the camera even exists; suggest one tell the other a joke or ”explain” about the fish — anything to get subject loose, happy, natural.) If subject alone, suggest interaction with the fish — hook removal, lifting from deck, even admiring it (looking at it, not you). Avoid dead fish in such photos — take ’em quick when the fish is in the boat and lively, before it’s clubbed or languishes to a pale, glassy-eyed state of rigor mortis. Finally, do try to keep the angler’s tackle in the shot!

3. Watch Out for Shots of Big Fish Held Vertically Before Release (as on deck with a Boga Grip)

Recent research has indicated that doing this may damage the vertebrae of big fish (e.g. tarpon, snook, redfish, salmon); better if you can have anglers holding such fish horizontally — or of course still mostly in the water.

4. Avoid Kill Shots of Billfish and Bluewater Sharks!

Do Send us exciting, in-focus shots of leaping, tailwalking, greyhounding fish or fish being wired for tagging or being released or admired at the boat. But skip the traditional dead stuff — hanging at the dock, draped over the transom, bleeding on deck — or anything with a gaff in it. “Kill” shots of other, food fish okay if — you should pardon the expression — tasteful. But that doesn’t include piles of fish on deck or dock — sport, not carnage, is what we’re after. Gaffs are not unacceptable, but generally not particularly desirable, either.

5. Avoid Bloody Shots of Fish at/in the Boat

Shoot alive and lively fish but dip ’em or wipe ’em (or shoot the ”clean” side) if dripping blood.

6. Think Boats

Surveys show our national/international affluent readership owns and fishes from boats. Accordingly, we rarely have much interest in photos of fishing from piers, surf, jetties, etc.

7. Avoid Shadow-Darkened Shots

Give us shots liberal with use of fill flash under high sun or backlit conditions; try to avoid faces black from shadows of fishing caps.

8. Don’t Limit Submissions to Fish/Fishing Alone

Have an eye to all things related to fish/fishing, viz: rigging, technique (gear/action), baits, lures, equipment, diving birds, weather, water (color/rips/ weedlines), feeding schools, schools of baitfish (and catching them), other boats fishing/ running, Bimini starts, etc, etc. Also, don’t hesitate to photograph any/all nearshore/offshore species, gamefish or others, including those that are unusual.

9. Sport Fishing Magazine Covers

Sport Fishing covers emphasize fish — fish leaping, underwater, at the surface, on a line out of the water and so on. That may include anglers interacting with fish — fighting fish, releasing or tagging fish and the like. Most saltwater gamefish may qualify. Focus must be laser-sharp to retain its quality when enlarged 1,200 percent. The dominant image must fill most of the frame to minimize amount of enlargement necessary e.g. a jumping fish that’s a dot on the horizon won’t make it). And of course there must be room at the top for the logo and along the left side (often shots may be flopped) for cover blurbs. See “Cover Photo Tips” below.

10. Other Suggestions

If shooting slides, stick with a high-quality low-grain film — such as Fujichrome or Provia 100 (Velvia 50 for nonaction shots in bright light) or Kodachrome-64 and Lumiere; Shutter speeds for moving fish should be at least 1/1000-second. Bracket a stop or two up/down when time permits and try for both horizontals and verticals. Compose to keep the fish as main focus of most shots and to avoid extraneous objects and background (or foreground) clutter in frame (also avoid clothing with nasty/racist/sexist inferences). If shooting digitally, certainly use the highest possible setting, including RAW if possible (as discussed above).

Packaging Submissions

  • Make sure that every slide has — at the very least! — your name on it. Otherwise, return can’t be guaranteed. Words of description (area, species, etc.) written right on the slide can be of great help.

  • If sending slides/other images in one package targeting two or more articles, please places slides in a separate sheet (or sheets) for each different article and mark the sheet accordingly.

  • Brief captions written on each image are helpful; if no information is written on images, a sheet of captions is essential – and, in any event, always welcome/useful. (However: please make sure your slides are numbered to match your caption sheet. Too many photographers offer a numbered caption sheet to match the order of slides in the sheets but in use, inevitably some slides get pulled, shuffled around (often weeks later) and then the caption sheet offers little sure insight.

  • If sending digital images via CD, again, please include JPGS for review along with RAW files plus a color hardcopy printout of thumbnails.

  • Make sure you have on file with Sport Fishing a current contract or our accounting department will not issue payment. (If you need to be contacted, contact managing editor Stephanie Pancratz, [email protected].)

  • Payment will be issued to the first name on the slide (stock agency or photographer) or CD unless other payment arrangements are specified .

  • If any of the images submitted have appeared (or will appear) in any potentially competing publication, please make that clear. (This doesn’t necessarily preclude us from choosing it, but it’s good to know.)

SF Cover Photo Tips! A Quick Checklist

During the fervor of campaigning in 1992, George Bush said, “We’re enjoying sluggish times — and not enjoying them very much.” The same might be said of many cover photo submissions we receive at Sport Fishing. Given this, we thought we’d offer a few reminders of what your shots need to include for cover consideration for Sport Fishing. They’re good criteria to keep in mind while shooting photos as well as making selections from past shoots. Note that we’ve raised the cover rate from $500 five years ago to $750 and two years ago to $1,200.

  • Format — Vertical! Is the shot vertical or, if horizontal, croppable to a vertical format that will fit? (If you think a horizontal may be croppable to fit, be aware if how much the image will need to be enlarged – if a great deal, too much grain will preclude its use.)

  • Format — Space at the top! Is there plenty of space at the top for both title and subtitle?

  • Format — Space on the left! Is there plenty of room along left side for cover blurbs (without covering up any essential part of image)?

  • Format — Image/Composition! Does the image do a good job of filling the frame? (A distant, jumping fish on a 35-mm slide cannot be blown-up large enough for cover use without becoming a grainy mess.) Will the image fall in the right area? Mentally grid the cover in four equal rectangles; the focal point of the image will need to be roughly in upper left corner of the bottom right box (i.e. slightly down and to the right of center). Note that your image can be flopped as long as nothing shows in the way of logos, boat names, etc.

  • Focus! Is it tack sharp? (That includes the entire image, not just part of it.) If not, sending the image is a waste of your time and money.

  • Background Bright, monochromatic and uncluttered! Is the background color bright? (Need bright blue sky, water — sometimes bright green or clear water works but dull greys or browns won’t make it.) Is the background monochromatic so lettering over it will “pop”? (Believe it or not, many otherwise great photos are rejected because the top of the page contains too much light/dark contrast — best example: rippled surface of water where bright white reflective patches alternate with dark water.) Is the background uncluttered? (Title can’t be put over tackle, boat towers, etc.)

  • Subject Right for our “look”! Is the subject appropriate for the “Sport Fishing look”? (All the criteria above can be met perfectly, but the subject must fit our needs. Don’t send us rainbow trout or jetty fishing or bloody fish, etc. Look at recent covers to see what SF looks for. If you’re unsure, e-mail or call and ask.)

  • Test it yourself! Here’s a good way to figure out yourself if an image works: Using an actual cover as a guide, cut a piece of white posterboard to size and sketch in with a black marker the title/subtitle and some blurbs; then project your image onto it (which will allow you to ”crop” as you might feel optimal) to see how it fits.


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