Sell Photos of a National Forest: Permit Required?

There you are, amid nature in a beautiful national forest, taking many different photos and you think to yourself, what if I wish to sell photos of national parks to make money? Sounds like an absolutely fantastic idea, doesn't it? Not burst your bubble, but it sounds better than it actually is. There are many rules and regulations regarding what you can and cannot do within a national forest. There are requirements to obtaining a permit. Here is a quick list of things you need to do in order to get through this process.

Materials You Will Need

  • This guide
  • Pen and paper

Step 1 - Understand the Law

Bill Clinton, on May 26, 2000 signed a statute that covered what you could and could not do in a national forest. It basically was enacted to determine the fees and costs associated with filming and snapping photographs in national forests. The law particularly explains commercial video shoots and still-photography requirements. Essentially, you must obtain a permit if you are looking to either film or take photographs in a national forest.

Step 2 - Understand Where There Are No Fees

If you are in a section of a national forest where the general public is allowed, permitted and encouraged to spend time, there are no up-front fees asked of you as a photographer. You may take as many pictures as you would like at these spots; for example, public trails or common sight seeing locations.

Step 3 - Understand When You Need to Apply for a Permit

With the above said, if you insert additional props or people into the still photos, such as a model, the secretary of state noted that you are required to pay a fee for the sale of said photos. You will need to contact the forestry division to find out what this fee is and whether it applies to the national park which you intend to photograph and sell pictures.

You will also need to apply for a permit if you intend to disrupt or disturb the natural landscape and natural surroundings of the national forest.

Permit fees vary from location to location and from project to project.

Step 4 - Applying for a Permit

Each forest has their own application. Search online for the forest you intend to visit. Download and fill out the application. Fax or mail the application to the indicated address. Many national forests request that you allow 3 to 4 weeks for processing. For example, Bridger-Teton National Forest requests at least 3 weeks lead time.

In your application, you must be as specific as possible. The fees are also determined by the type of project you plan to execute. The fees will be outlined in the application you submit.

Step 5 - Disclaimers

If you decide to use your photography for advertising purposes, under the law you are required to use a disclaimer on your advertisements. The disclaimer is such that you must tell the reader that the national park or the secretary of state do not endorse the advertisement or the product you are selling.

Step 6 - Obtain Liability Insurance

Most national parks require that you obtain liability insurance while you are in the national park taking photographs and going about your business. This is to protect both you and the national park from any lawsuits or legal action should you be injured while on location.

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