Photographer Guidelines

Who We Are
Law Officer is the publication for trainers, middle managers, and professional law enforcement officers. Law Officer's mission is "to provide the best in tactics, technology and training." Law Officer delivers editorial content to help officers and departments be more effective and efficient.

We seek articles about Law Enforcement of direct relevance to professional law enforcement officers to provide officers from entry level through middle management with the best tactics, technology and training information available.

Submiting Photos
Please see attachment below for our photo wish list.

If you’re interested in submitting photos to Law Officer, please review this set of guidelines for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). Understanding what kind of photos we’re looking for will help you get your work published.


What qualities does Law Officer look for in a good law enforcement shot?
We look for sharp, well-framed images with room around the frame edges to crop. For photographers who regularly respond to law enforcement calls, we encourage shooting the scene from as many different angles as possible, concentrating on both the action and the smaller details. When possible, please shoot and submit vertical and horizontal formats of the same scene. We prefer photos that show tactics, technology and training in action. Please include captions that indicate response organizations pictured, city, state and type of incident.

What image format should I use?
We accept the following formats:

  • Digital images in jpg, TIFF, or EPS format at 72 dpi for initial review. We require 300 dpi resolution for publication.
  • 35 mm prints
  • 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 transparencies
  • Glossy 8 x 10 color

Note: Please DO NOT send negatives.

What are the basic guidelines for digital photos?
A word about megapixels: The general rule of digital photography is that you can always "size-down" an image, but you can never "size-up" an image without sacrificing image quality.

If you're using less than a 3.2-megapixel camera, your images will not be of a size and resolution that can be used on the cover of Law Officer or as a full-page photo. If your images aren’t shot at a high resolution and if your camera is set to shoot at small pixel size, we can't enlarge the images significantly without serious image degradation, called "pixelation." (Pixelation is defined as the result of increasing the size of a bitmapped or raster image such that visible square dots appear. The edges of objects become jagged or stair-step in appearance.)

For Law Officer, we need a large, high resolution (high quality) "digital print" size to begin with, so we can crop and focus on the part of the image we want to print.

To help you understand the significance of megapixels, here’s an example of the number of megapixels your camera has to have to create a 5 x 7 image (about half-page size) that maintains at least 300 ppi/dpi (pixels per inch/dots per inch) quality:

A simple formula to use to calculate the megapixels you need to obtain high quality at a specific size "print" is:

(Width inches x 300 ppi) x (Length inches x 300 ppi) = Number of megapixels

Example: To shoot a high quality 5" x 7" image

(5" x 300 ppi) x (7" x 300 ppi) = 1,500 x 2,100 = 3,150,000, or about 3.2 megapixels

Important note: Because all chip capacity in digital cameras isn't available for imaging, you actually need to add about 10% to the above capacity to allow for the chip's needed electronics processing functions, increasing the actual camera megapixel requirement up to about 3.5. This means that a 4.0 megapixel camera is the minimum required for truly good-quality 5 x 7" images.

To obtain a higher quality image that Law Officer can print (or crop) for use full-size on a cover (8.5 x 11"), your digital camera must be capable of the equivalent of (8.5 x 300 ppi) x (11 x 300 ppi) dots per inch. That's 2550 x 3300, or 8.4 megapixels. Mainly professional-quality digital cameras have that great a capacity at this time.

If you’re using a camera that’s less than 3.2 megapixels, we will be able to use your images, but they will have to be used in a smaller size in the magazine.

What settings should I use for my digital camera?
Check your camera manual and make sure that your camera's settings are changed to shoot at the highest possible resolution. For example, the Minolta Dimage Xt (a 3 megapixel pocket-sized digital camera) has four settings for image size on one of the camera’s menu. They are: 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, and 640 x 480.

If you modify the above formula and divide the image size by 300, you’ll be able to determine when the enlargement of a digital image, produced at each setting, will begin to get pixelated (stretched beyond a high quality image).

2048 x 1536 setting 2048/300 ppi = 6.8" and 1536/300 ppi = 5.1" Maximum quality size = 5 x 7"

1600 x 1200 setting 1600/300 ppi = 5.3" and 1200/300 ppi = 4.0" Maximum quality size = 4 x 5"

1280 x 960 setting 1280/300 ppi = 4.3" and 960/300 ppi = 3.2" Maximum quality size = 3 x 4"

640 x 480 setting 640/300 ppi = 2.1" and 480/300 ppi = 1.6" Maximum quality size = 1.5 x 2"

Also, be aware that higher pixel settings eat up more of your camera’s memory. This may require you to use a higher capacity memory card to be able to shoot a lot of images.

Examples: Listed below are the total images you can shoot with the Minolta Dimage Xt camera with each image size setting, if a 256 MB media card is used:

  • 2048 x 1536 = 154 images
  • 1600 x 1200 = 244 images
  • 1280 x 960 = 376 images
  • 640 x 480 = 1,186 images

Do you have any tips for how my photos can be published?
Review issues of Law Officer Magazine or articles on
Study published samples before submitting.
Don’t send long-distance or out-of-focus shots.
Focus directly on law enforcement professional shots.
Don’t shoot staged situations-only real-life law enforcement action shots.
Completed model release forms must accompany photos when legally appropriate.
Remember that Law Officer does not accept responsibility for unsolicited materials.

Where do I send my image(s)?
The preferred way to submit photos is to our ftp site at Select Law Officer, enter your contact information, enter a message (caption to describe what happened on scene), click "Basic Upload," add your photos, and click "Send."

Or, you can mail/e-mail images to: Law Officer Editor, 4180 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 260, La Jolla, CA 92037, or via e-mail to If you send images as attachments via e-mail, compress your files with Stuff It, Disk Doubler, etc. Send only one attached image per e-mail.

What happens if Law Officer accepts my photograph?
On acceptance of your image(s), our art director or an editor will notify you of our desire to use your image(s). Then, we’ll send you a confirmation letter that outlines specifics of the image(s) to be used, payment and copyright information.

Will I be paid if my photos are used?
Yes, payments are made on completion of a formal confirmation letter at the following rates:

  • Cover: $200
  • 2-page spread: $75
  • Full-page: $60
  • One-half or one-third: $40
  • Quarter: $30
  • Spot or Web only: $15
Attachment Size
Law Officer's Photo Wish List 65 KB