Sunday, 13 May 2018

Request for Images

Ongoing Request for Sri Lanka Wildlife Images and Guidelines for Image Contributors

I have authored and been the principal photographer for a number of photographic field guides to wildlife of Sri Lanka. The motivation behind these books is to impart field skills,  get people interested in nature and conservation and to align an economic agenda with conservation by building capacity for wildlife tourism. It is not to showcase myself as a photographer. Therefore, I am always happy to replace my images with those of others and share the opportunity to have images published in a book.

As my books roll through various stages of reprints/editions, I am continuously adding to a pool of shortlisted images that are potential replacements or additions. The following guidelines for contributors of images have been written to help people who may not be familiar with the publishing process.

Timing: When to Submit Images?
Please send me good images as and when you take them. I am very organised and efficiently maintain a pool of potential replacement images and additions so that I can send them to the publisher at very short notice.

I may at best only receive 2-3 weeks to send in revisions for a revised edition and I will have no time at this stage to follow up with  people for images. I can only use images I have received months in advance and have already shortlisted.

All images must be the copyright of the contributing photographer.

Composition, Format and Cropping
Some pictures I receive are not suitable for use in a book to be published by a professional natural history publisher. Therefore, please carefully read the following guidelines.

• Please send images as high res jpegs (not TIFFs which are very big). Most photographers will need to output jpegs afresh from their RAW files with the output quality at the highest setting. In a good spec digital SLR, the image size will be between 8-20 megs before cropping.

• If images are subsequently cropped, make sure they retain the original 3:2 landscape image proportion that is the default setting for SLR cameras. Cropped images will need to be at least 1Meg in size to be suitable for publication. Do not crop too tightly; the designers need some room to manoeuvre.

• Only send your best images. Preferably just one or two per species which show the plant or animal well and are sharp, well composed, have good light, etc.

• Do not apply sharpening. The designers will apply post-processing if needed.

• Species which are not easy to see or photograph will have a higher chance of being used.

• Images which show identification features are such as wing-bars in flight for birds are as useful as static portraits of a perched bird. With butterflies, both underwing and upperwing images are useful. With trees, images of the bark, flower, fruit and leaves are useful.

The preferred and most time efficient way for me to receive a large number of images is via dropbox. It only takes a minute to register with an email and a password of your choice on There is an option for signing up free of charge. Only the professional options cost money. You can share the folder or create a link and email me the link. If you only have a few images to email and these are less than 8-10 megs in total, an email is fine.

Identification of Species and Photographer
Please label each jpeg with the name of the species and the name of the photographer. Images in the publishing process get copied from one folder to another and passed on to different people for layout and design. Labelling each filename with the photographer’s name reduces the risk of mishaps with images being attributed incorrectly. E.g.
Peregrine (c) Joe Bloggs xxxxnnn.jpg
Yellow Wagtail (c) Joe Bloggs xxxxnn.jpg

It may be useful to retain the RAW file number (xxxnnn in the examples above) or date and location information you put in, when the jpeg was generated from your RAW file. If I come back to you and ask for more images in that sequence, it will be easier for you to locate your files.

Image Credits in Book
All images used will be credited.  But note that the credits will be at the end of the book, in the current style of the books that are published by all of the professional publishers, be it a publishing giant like Bloomsbury or Collins or a medium-sized international publisher like New Holland or John Beaufoy Publishing.

Publisher’s Terms
The majority of photographic field guides, even by international publishers, are specialist titles with small print runs. The majority of the international publishers do not offer fees for images. Some publishers will offer a single complimentary copy irrespective of the number of images used.
For books published by John Beaufoy Publishing, the publisher has a ‘books for images formula’. They give one book per 5 images used up to a maximum of 5 books per photographer. Therefore if 15 images are used, then the photographer receives 3 books. If 14 images are used, then only 2 books will be given....and so on up to the maximum. This is when the images are used for the first time. On subsequent prints and editions, the publisher will not give more new books. This is partly to minimise the admin and partly to manage the economics as these specialist titles have relatively small print runs. (For background info and context, as the author, I receive two books on first publication from one of the publishers).

With all of the international publishers, even as the author I do not receive free copies on reprints and new editions. This is again for the reasons of managing admin time and costs to the publisher. I obviously do see page proofs when a revised edition is being worked on.

What Species Groups?
Given below are some additional notes on the species groups I am interested in.

• Birds
Different sexes, plumages (immature, adult), flight and perched.

• Butterflies
Upperwing and underwing are both desirable.

• Dragonflies
Different sexes, maturity stages (immature, adult).

• Trees
Images must be accurately identified with species in filename to be of any use to me. Ideally, I need images of some or all of the whole tree (often difficult), flowers, leaf, fruit and bark. 
With flowers, note that with some tree species, flowers may be unisexual with male and female flowers on the same tree or on different trees; some species may have on the same tree, bisexual flowers as well as male and/or female flowers (botany is more complicated than birds).

• Mammals
In addition to images illustrating the mammals, anything showing behaviour is useful.

Why should you help?
It is satisfying to see your images in print which is a nice complement to other forms of publishing images such as posting them on social media. Sometimes having your images in print can open doors for useful invitations to the photographers.

But most of all, these affordable, portable and practically useful photographic guides help to enthuse people from a wide variety of backgrounds to take an interest in wildlife and conservation. Because they are affordable, they are often gifted to local guides by both foreign visitors and better off local visitors. They make a real impact in capacity building in Sri Lanka amongst local guides at various Sri Lankan national parks and reserves where the guides would not have the money or the convenience to buy the books. They help to brand and develop Sri Lanka as a wildlife tourism destination and the money trickles down to grass roots level all over the country. So your photographs can play a part in conservation and poverty alleviation. As an author, doing something socially useful is a key motivator for me.

How to contact me?
If we have not corresponded before, please contact me using my gmail with ‘Submitting Sri Lanka Wildlife Images’ as the subject header. To avoid internet bots harvesting my email details, I have not included the full email below. Please add the bit below, before the (at)

 My publications can also be seen on Amazon.

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