“I am a national geographic photographer,” a line that every photographer dreams of to let them introduce to someone. The post “National Geographic Photographer” is one of the most prestigious positions for a photographer. To enhance a freelancer photographer career, this job is the best one. But don’t think that this job is easy to gain. A clump of skill and experience and years of hard work, as well as practice, is much to get this job. This job position is highly competitive, and every photographer who is working with National Geographic, they are working as a freelance photographer for several years. If you would love to be a famous photographer, getting published in National Geographic will let you help to achieve the goal.

National Geographic has already passed 115 years in photography. You will not find any shortcuts way or any magic trick to get a job at National Geographic. Many National Geography photographer’s advice to their fellows to join with their successful journey. In this article, I am going to help you out about “how to become a National Geographic Photographer” following the expert’s opinion. Follow below methods step by step

Method 01: Achieving the Essential Photography Skills

Step 01: Get a college degree that focused on science or journalism

Did you wonder after looking at the sub-heading that only science or journalism degree required, not on photojournalism? Yes, the information is correct. Firstly, getting a degree in photojournalism is unnecessary. A science degree is enough to apply for the position. Though if your degree is unrelated to photojournalism, there is no concern from Nat Geo. But they always encourage to participate any photography classes and practice without any break.

  • Many Nat Geo photographers are there who supported themselves with a science subject that has a relation with photography. Such as, several freelancers have a science degree, and they become an excellent photographer of natural history.

Step 02: Gather experience in Photojournalism for 5 years or more

Secondly, you need to start a career as a local correspondent in any local newspaper or magazine. Also, keep note that the job should allow you to take a lot of photographs in a day. Because National Geographic needs a minimum of 5 or more years of experience in Photojournalism.

  • One of the well-known Nat Geo photographer Joel Sartore started his career as a staff photographer in a local newspaper. Later, he became Director of Photography of a local newspaper published in Wichita, Kansas.

Step 03: Be specialized in a specific field to get the attention of National Geography 

For this position, you need to compete with master photographer, skillful documentarians, genuine storyteller, and to name a few. So, if you are a great photographer, it is not enough to go to the zenith position. You have to be an expert in a detailed task such as  an image that contains perfect lighting in a challenging photographic area.

  • Indeed, you can’t list down the unique ideas that Nat Geo has not experienced. Remember, the more you specific on a subject, the more you can get the attention of the jury board of the company.
  • Versatility is also another key to go to the zenith. People who can speak in different languages as well as giving a deep dive in a cube of sea ice to snap a photograph are few examples. If you are a pro of different skills, you can grab the attention quickly.

 Step 03: Snap picture every single minute 

This step is inevitable, as well as significantly critical. To touch the zenith, you need to drink, eat, and sleep photography. Except this, no option is available for you. You just can’t only take the camera and wait for the moment. Find out any subject that can tell a story. Utilize every single minute of your day and night and capture photographs and learn about the camera.

  • Photography is a hobby that you can say proudly to others. Several types of cameras are on the market that can help to become a better photographer. Though National Geographic did not specify the nature of the camera for the photograph, so, choose a camera that suits with your handling.
  • Nat Geo always inspires their photographer to do experiments with new techniques of photography. Also, note that you will be disqualified if you submit an unnecessary and overly manipulated photograph. Take the challenge to show your vision through a photo.

Method 02: Make the best use of Your Opportunities for a Nat Geo Assignments

Step 01: Try to publish your photographs in several blogs

The Nat Geo juries are always surfing to different books, magazines, newspapers, and online to search for photographers who grabs their attention using their creativity. Once a person becomes popular in photographic websites, and if the jury found the photographer’s name in several places, they contact with the photographer.

  • It is a long time process. Over time, you can grab the attention. As I said earlier, there is no shortcut process to become a Nat Geo photographer. Nat Geo looks for an experienced and versatile photographer.
  • Nat Geo juries not only look at your photography technique. They observe whether a photographer is skilled in storytelling or not. Every day, take some time and plan for a story that you would love to share through your camera lens. 

Step 02: Come in contact with Nat Geo editor

This step is similar to many fields. It is important to let the people know about you and you learn about others. Though it is a very tough job to get the email addresses of the top editors, you can find the “Contact Us” option on Nat Geo’s website. Find out the contact details and send them the best work that you have done so far. 

  • Send your best photo to many jurors via email. This will help you a lot to grasp the attention.

Step 03: Make an appointment at the Nat Geo Headquarter located in Washington, D.C.

Yet Nat Geo headquarters don’t offer a tour in their place, but the museum is located on the first floor of the building that is open for the public. You will enjoy a lot visiting the museum as you will be entertained with rotating displays and a comprehensive history of National Geographic.

  • Nat Geo headquarters is at 1145 17th St. NW in D.C.
  • Learn about the photograph of the museum; understand the pop of the images. You shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Nat Geo museum. 

Step 04: Create a network with former and new photographers of Nat Geo

Introduce yourself to old and original photographers of Nat Geo. Create a network. They can help you by forwarding your image to Nat Geo editors along with other famous persons. When you finish creating a network, ensure contacting the persons continuously, and ask for advice.

  • Nat Geo photographers often call a seminar to help the new and novice photographers. So, whenever you find seminars like that, don’t forget to attend those seminars. Introduce yourself to the photographer just after finishing the seminar.
  • How would you love to describe networking? Networking is not only seeking jobs on several websites but also helps to get feedback after completing a task. Don’t feel hesitant to get a remark from a new or former photograph regarding your best work. You can maintain a relationship with a person who is also from the same field by following this simple way.

Step 05: Send your best clips to Nat Geo every month

There are several photographers out there to receive an opportunity to work with National Geography. It means editors receive photos from different people every day. In order to grab their eyes, continuously send your best work to them. Not every day, mate, every month. 

  • Joel Sartore sent his best work at Nat Geo headquarters every 3 months. Finally, this continuity allows him to capture a few photos for Nat Geo magazine. And this work leads him to more work.
  • You should be careful about the consistency of sending a photograph to Nat Geo mail. Being continuity is better, but that should not create any pain. If you are continuously contacting the Nat Geo editors, they may feel irritating, and in the end, you will create a mess with the company. Thus you will lose the opportunity.

Method 03: Take Benefits of Every Photography Opportunities

Step 01: Apply for Nat Geo Internship Photography when you are at college

This program is incredibly beneficial. Generally, Nat Geo allows only one intern every year. A photo contest which is known as “College Photographer of the Year”, every year the University of Missouri organize this contest. And the winner receives the position of Nat Geo intern.

  • Do you know how many images Nat Geo received in their 73rd edition of this photo contest?  They received 12,000 photo from students of several countries. So, before submitting, it is essential to give a look at your photos intently and then submit it for the contest.

Step 02: Join “Your Shot” and be a part of Nat Geo Family

Who doesn’t love to work with some of the brightest minds of the photography industry? Create an account on Nat Geo’s website and get a chance to work along with tremendous photographers. Send your best photos for a themed assignment to have a chance at being part of a published story. As you have joined with the family or community, you will be able to get feedback on your submitted photographs from some top names of the photography sector, and you can study their work through the community.

  • “Your Shot” account is free.
  • If your shots receive and noticed by the community panel, you will get a chance to work on an assignment with Nat Geo. Nat Geo will pay you about 500 dollars per day for going on assignment.

Step 03: Offer a project work to get a scholarship from Nat Geo

Nat Geo provides 3 types of scholarship: early career, exploration, and requests for proposals. Generally, early grants received by low skilled professionals who lead the project. An exploration scholarship is a finance call made by an experienced project leader in the areas of education, conservation, storytelling, research, and technology. A request for proposal is when an applicant pitches a project that focuses on a specific key issue. These include documenting human migration and species recovery. Below are some rules and regulations for this scholarship.

  • You have to reach a minimum of 18 years to be an applicant for an early career grant.
  • Grant projects lifetime is one calendar year or less. Nat Geo funds $5000 – $10,000 for early grants and $10,000 – $30,000 for Exploration grant.
  • You can apply for the Nat Geo Scholarship several times. But all you need to do is, you have to remove all earlier records.
  • The grant program is highly competitive, and Nat Geo receives far more applications than it can fund.


“You want to be a successful photographer? There is no other way without getting obsessed with photography. Also, it is essential to acquire the knowledge about how you can create a story from a photo. Stories are a great way to talk about your vision.” Quoted by Dan Westergren, who was the former director of photography at National Geographic Traveler.

Final Thought

So, why are you doing late? Grab your camera, go outside, search for a story, and capture a brilliant photo. Skill, hard work, practice, and determination is significantly vital to touch your dream. So travel where your eyes take you and search for the most iconic photo that shows your photographic skill.