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  • Writer's picturePublic Lands Hate You

Commercial Photography on Public Lands

***Originally posted on 4/12/19 on @publiclandshatesyou***

***Post deleted by Instagram on 4/13/19 with no explanation***

Let’s talk about commercial photography on our public lands.

Almost all public lands in the United States require a permit for photography or videography that will provide a financial benefit to a person or company. Were you paid to promote a product? A permit is required. Did a company give you free gear in exchange for a shoutout? That’s a financial benefit, and a permit is required. Doing a drone shot for a documentary? A permit is required.

Let’s use our most popular public lands, those managed by the National Park Service, as an example. The NPS website clearly states that photographers require a permit when the activity uses model(s), set(s), or prop(s) that are not part of the location’s natural or cultural resources. That’s as clear cut as it gets. Want to take photo with a handbag for a sponsor at Arches NP? You need a permit. Want to advertise 10% dog bandana’s at the National Mall? You need a permit. Want to tag company that gave you free shoes in exchange for a shoutout in the National Forest? You need a permit.

Let me reiterate.The NPS requires “A Commercial Use Authorization is required if you provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that take place at least in part on lands managed by the NPS, use park resources, and result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.”

Although the language varies slightly for public lands managed by other agencies such as the BLM, USDA, USFS, states, counties, and municipalities, the overarching message is the same.If you are somehow gaining something by taking a picture or video on public lands, you probably need a permit. These permits are a way to help protect resources, provide a check and balance system to ensuring public spaces are kept safe, and ensure that the public in general is given fair access.

Don’t take my word for it though. Do your own research. Call the land manager for your local public land before shooting. Do some research online. Sure, it might take a few extra minutes, but it’s a responsibility you have if you want to produce commercial photos or videos on our public lands.

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