Big Sur Land Trust Volunteer Photographer Guidelines

Updated December 5, 2022

Big Sur Land Trust uses volunteer photographers to help capture the beauty of the lands, and the unique energy of our events. You can serve as a scenic photographer, event photographer, or both. We look forward to seeing your perspective as you capture the beauty, wonder, and biodiversity. Thank you for allowing us to see the lands you love through your lens!

This document will give you some general guidelines so that your photos may be incorporated as much as possible into the work that we do.

Everyone, including Big Sur Land Trust staff and volunteers, is required to complete a hike request when visiting Big Sur Land Trust preserves. Volunteer photographers may always submit hike requests here.

In general, our volunteer photographers are shooting two types of photographs: (1) Events and scenic photography, which captures special Big Sur Land Trust events, landscapes, or members of the public engaging with Big Sur Land Trust lands, or; (2) Biodiversity photos (plants, animals, fungi, etc.).

How to Become a Volunteer Photographer
  1. Let us know if you're interested in becoming a volunteer photographer by submitting a volunteer photographer application.
  2. Attend a volunteer orientation. Volunteer orientations are held ~monthly and announced here.
  3. Accepted volunteer photographers are required to submit this Volunteer Photographer Agreement.

For more information about Big Sur Land Trust’s Volunteer Photography Program or about uploading your photos, please contact Jenny Jacox at

Volunteer Photographer FAQs

Photographer Types

Events/scenic photographers

Event photographers capture Big Sur Land Trust events and programs. Scenic photographers capture landscapes or quiet moments on the land while hiking Big Sur Land Trust preserves. These photos may be spontaneous or posed. So that we may make use of these photos more often, please follow these general guidelines:

  1. Unless shooting a flower (or other similar closeup), please shoot with a landscape orientation so we can use more photos for banners or crop them for what we need.
  2. Event participants sign photo waivers, so people shots are welcome.
  3. Photos of people on trails or working out on the land are most welcome!
  4. If you are photographing people you don’t know on a trail (and they are not attending a Big Sur Land Trust event), use an angle that keeps them from being identifiable in the photo.
  5. Select only your best shots before uploading them. We do not need multiple shots of the same view or group, just the photos you like the most.
  6. Before uploading, name the file using the following labeling convention: location acronym, event name (if applicable), photo date (yyyymmdd), and your first name and last initial. For example, a Shovel Party volunteer workday at Marks Ranch on 6/11/2022 would be MR_20220611_ShovelParty_jennyj.jpg.

These photos should be uploaded to a Google Album. Once uploaded, please share the Google Album with Big Sur Land Trust staff by email to:, with cc: and cc:

Biodiversity photographers

Big Sur Land Trust uses iNaturalist to collect its photos of flora (plants) and fauna (animals).

Any photo of a living organism, or signs of a living organism such as scat or a feather, can be uploaded to iNaturalist so long as it has the following:

  1. General focus on a single organism.
    • Photos may be edited so that the main subject is a single organism.
  2. Geolocation.
    • If using a phone, your phone camera must be allowed to use location services (in an iPhone, this can be set under Settings > Location Services).
    • Many traditional cameras have onboard GPS. Those that do not can be connected to a GPS device. Some may use your phone’s GPS through a Bluetooth connection.
  3. Timestamp.
    • Phone cameras and traditional cameras both routinely record a timestamp. With traditional cameras, you must take the additional step of confirming that your date and time settings are accurate.

To take photos directly in iNaturalist:

  1. Download the iNaturalist app to your mobile device.
  2. Create your iNaturalist account.
  3. Optional: Join the Big Sur Land Trust project.
  4. In the iNaturalist app, take photographs of the living organisms and evidence thereof that you encounter on Big Sur Land Trust’s preserves. This can be plants, animals, fungi – or even just evidence of them (scat, feathers). Optional: After taking the photo, click “What did you see? View suggestions” for identification suggestions. (This is also a nice step to save for when you are finished with your hike and back home, to revisit what you saw).
  5. Click SHARE.
  6. Important! When you get home, confirm that your observations have been uploaded.

To manually upload photos to iNaturalist:

  1. While signed into your iNaturalist account, click “upload”.
  2. Drag-and-drop your photos into the upload window.
  3. Review the photo information, and add identifications as needed and when adequately confident.

A few additional notes about iNaturalist:

  • By taking photos in iNaturalist (and making sure to upload them when you get home) you will be contributing to a powerful biodiversity dataset.
  • Any photos taken of threatened or endangered organisms will be automatically obscured by the iNaturalist system, to prevent poaching and trespassing.
  • By default, iNaturalist photos are CC-BY-NC (Attribution BY Non-Commercial). Please consider changing your observations and photos to public domain (CC0). Photos and observations produced by Big Sur Land Trust volunteer photographers can be used by Big Sur Land Trust staff for any reason.
  • Joining other iNaturalist projects can help with identifications. For example, if you join the “Found Feathers” project you can add your feather observations to that project and get help with identification from project members.

Thank you again. Enjoy your time as a Big Sur Land Trust volunteer photographer!