So today the PAC Facebook and my newsfeed has been cluttered with this new article: That the Federal Forest Service will be charging Media and Photographers $1500 Permit fees to take Photos. Now lets think about this for a minute .. how is this even enforceable?
These Permits were originally intended to be for Film Crews working on Hollywood Movies that take up weeks or months of time and resources, AND displace others from using the location, Monument Valley, Antelope canyon, & State Parks they all have them. Even a little fake ghost town near my house, wants to charge me to shoot a DSLR – and depending on whom you speak to, can be between $50-100 !!! Really? You collected rusted garbage and piled it up in one place!
IN recent times these “Film” Permits have been pushed on Photographers.
My argument who is to say I need a permit? Scenario I am out with my Mom Shooting a DSLR and so is she, Say I am shooting for fun and possibly fine art one day and she is just a hobbyist – who is deciding what the possible use of said images is for. Secondly say I get a permit and NEVER get an image I like out of the series – then do I get my money back? (Of Course not) So is the $1000 fine better than the $1500 Permit? – I will risk it.
So on Enforcement: How will this be enforced? will we get a pat down like entering a concert? What size camera is a Pro Camera, are mirrorless cameras ok? An Iphone 6? This law has so many loose ends, It will be hard to pass it
Another law my friend Brian Baril just sent to me makes Tripods illegal to use in NYC – an entire city? Well kinda – unless you get a permit for (yet again) film crews – so when and how did Photography get put in the same boat as Hollywood films?
Stupid right? Just as much as all these permits and property releases of when and where you can shoot.
Below are the Links to a few of these other articles … to see if you you think these “laws” should, or would apply to hobbyist, Pro or fine art photographers.
Also I ask you to “Sound Off” in the comments so others can learn from your expertise.
I leave you with this quote : ” Take nothing but Photographs and leave nothing but footprints” is posted on the National Forest Services website here is an image…
Links to Articles on the fees: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2014/09/7_things_you_should_know_about.html
Stephanie Lindsey says
Every summer we visit National Forest Service land multiple times to fish, enjoy the wildlife, and while we are there I always take my camera for the Bald Eagle or wild horse sightings. Not once has a Forest Service Officer asked to see our fishing license. In fact, we have seen an officer once, in almost 5 summers straight of fishing. With that said, I do purchase my yearly hunt/fish combo license because it is the only way to guarantee that our wildlife is managed for years to come, for the enjoyment of my son, and his children. A small price to pay for proper resource management.
Now let’s think about this $1500 permit for photography. Is it yearly or a once you purchase it you are covered for any and all NFS or Wildlife areas until the day you die? Are they going to have Photography and Film Officers driving around making sure that everyone has their proper license? Or is this just another way for the Government to profit off a business (or sadly even a hobbyist) with no improvements or management of the resources the people purchasing the permits use?
With the track record of Game and Fish checking me for proper licensing, I think I’ll take my chances that they won’t ever ask to see my permit to photograph. I always pack out what I bring with me, and the only marks I leave are the footprints of where I have been.
Genia Gartner says
I visit Hot Springs a lot and some of the best parts are located within the HS National Park. I don’t see them harassing tourists about using a DSLR unless they’re dragging a production crew around interfering with traffic.
Christine Nimitz says
I think the permit thing on USFS lands is odd & ridiculous. The info on the USFS comments page is very vague & in legalese (http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FS-2014-0007) , so rather than spouting off with my OPINION, I wonder if someone has some other facts besides the Oregon Live post above. It is especially odd given that certain groups want to open up various gov’t lands for fracking, mining, drilling, etc & that would certainly damage & trammel the lands far more than a few photographers hiking.
Has anyone read the actual legislation? I’ve just read it about six times. The link should be in the article. While it irks me to have more legislation I don’t read it as something very threatening. First, it’s been in place for 4 years and is about to expire which is why they are moving on ‘new’ legislation. Second, it DOES SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDE exclude ‘non commercial photography’. Third, I do read it as when the filming is going to have a significant impact on the area or public. Fourth, you send any comments under the heading of ‘COMMERCIAL FILMING in Wilderness Areas.
Now I could be wrong, and I fully expect the ‘I told you so’s’ if that comes to bear. However, the rules are already in place and have been for four years. I have never, once, on federal land been stopped and told I have to pay a fee. On the other hand, I HAVE been approached on private ‘abandoned’ land and had multiple conversations with folks who once they realize you are just using a camera have no issue. I don’t know. I see it can be a slippery slope, but if it hasn’t affected me in the last four years, I fail to see how renewing legislation will affect me in the next four years.
Please Post the link for us!
Larry Pollock says
If, if this for real and they are looking for ways to implement this for the masses and photographers in general then “Houston, we have a problem”!
How would you go about enforcing this? Nearly 100% of people visiting National Forest, National Parks and Monuments have some sort of camera. From iPhone to DSLR and video cams. Do you fine a few to scare the rest? Do you start trolling the web, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, G+ and hundreds more places along with person photography sites. How about Fine Art America, 500px, Etsy, and 100s of other places folks sell images on?
Where does the man power and money come from to do this? The permits and fines? does the un-needed fee help create another bureaucracy?
We already pay to get into the parks, our images promote the national forest, campgrounds, and so many places should we start charging a fee to the NFS for promotion. Per click suits me!
Will the people say no and will our Congressmen and Senators do something about this to ensure we don’t go down this road.
We need less government, fewer laws, and less intrusion into our lives.
Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave (no, churning!)
Totally agree with you Larry.. Do they realize how much money they make just off of photographers park passes and admission fees, not to mention the free promotion?.. How are they going to determine who is a photographer and who is just out for the day on a hike with a camera?.. Maybe they are going to charge everyone for even bringing a camera in?.. Then watch the visitors drop like a rock.. Wonder who’s dumb idea this was..
Exactly – everyone goes there to take photos – thats the WHOLE Point! lol
I guess the bigger question is, are you making money off the photography you do at the parks? If so that makes you part of the film/photography industry. Film and photography have always gone hand in hand truthfully. There is always a paid photographer on television and movie sets/locations.
I day the law is BS but isn’t just about any law passed by the government when it comes to regulation and assessing fees of any given industry. I, by no means make any significant monies from my work but I guess if I’m carrying in a big bag of photography equipment I am “a pro making money”
I agree with your sentiment Nicholas, I will take the risk. We as citizens shouldn’t have to pay outrageous fees to photograph our natural surroundings. Don’t we pay an access fee just to get into any given National Park? It’s another governmental imposed tax on us. So is this law already passed and in effect or is it in front of congress/senate? If it is still pending it’s an opportunity for every photographer to write their congressional leaders and voice their concerns. We can’t complain if we don’t voice our opinions. Do you have the specific bill/law number? I will be voicing my concern. Hell, I am preparing a trip to Washington, Oregon and Yosemite mid October and I’d have been completely oblivious to this had I not read your post.
It sounds like a way to make revenue more than anything else and a snooker of preserving and discouraging that area from people.Little do they know the local photog is their best friend in making the beauty forever.
Celeste W says
I feel that the ‘articles’ being pushed out on social media today comes from an alarmist position to promote click-through rates for those “specialty sites.” (Remaining nameless as I don’t want to feed the monster.)
Those who work commercially already know to get permits to film/photograph on property that is not our own. If you really look at the entirety of the proposal (that includes the title.. notice “FOR COMMERCIAL FILMING”). There is no significant change that will affect everyday visitors to the parks.
I feel that the way the articles are written are misleading and even publish quotes that stretch the implications to the extreme.
C’mon, now. Get real.
And the Definition of “Commercial” is widely varying, many do not consider Wedding or Fine Art Commercial Photography
April Pak says
Sounds like an attempt to be able to control the kinds of stories that come out as well as making $. For artistic photographers who may or may not make any $ off of a given shoot, this is a deal killer… That said, seems hard to enforce. How can they prove it is for commercial purposes at the time of the shoot? They should just be glad for any exposure & awareness given to our public lands.
Terry Hogan says
Forest rangers have been requiring a permit for taking pictures on the National Forest for a few years now. I have been told by the a Tonto Forest Ranger along the Salt River that I would need a permit to take pictures with my DSLR camera because it looked like professional equipment. This happened a few years ago. I complained to the National Forest Office in Phoenix and have not been bothered since then on Forest land but if this directive becomes official in the FS Handbook it could lead to harassment of photographers. You can comment on this Directive before Nov 3 here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FS-2014-0007-0001
Ralph Cooksey-Talbott says
Really? Last I remember photography was not a crime…
This travesty deserves some pointed commentary from the still photography community because they will make it illegal to photograph America’s wilderness areas if we do not land on them hard…
This reg will affect all folks who are making fine art photos of wilderness areas on the speculation that we may sell a print. That intention makes your photographic enjoyment of a wilderness area into a “commercial” enterprise needing a permit.
Here is an article that describes the proposed legislation:
Here is the link at which you can leave an official comment:
I have been hassled in the back country because I was using a professional tripod and camera. The Rangers at the entry station where I obtained my wilderness permit said this was an error and apologized but the damage was done at that point…
Joe Irvine says
I’ve been seeing this story pop up a lot recently on the internet. It appears the vast majority of people are parroting some bullshit headline they read somewhere else on the internet. I’ve recently seen prominent youtuber, Devin Super Tramp, kick up a stink on his facebook page… Probably because he fails under the “commercial” category.
The first point a lot of people fail to grok is this is designed for “wilderness” areas. For the confused, I’m suppling this link that lays it all out: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/wilderness-and-other-protected-areas.aspx#ixzz3EHMPZcyZ
The proposal is also for “commercial” operations. NOT hobbyists with a DSLR and Tripod. The forest service is vastly underfunded as it currently stands. Why? Because quite frankly nobody really gives a shit. Not even the big budget productions that come through these “wilderness” area and make a mess of things.
I’d personally like to see the wording of the proposal changed to better differentiate between what is commercial and what it not.
Christine Nimitz says
There is enough vagueness in the legalese that if “they” think you’re a pro because you have expensive-looking equipment, then you may be subject to enforcement. Several people have already posted on this blog about being bothered by rangers. This is the FIRST time in 4 years that comments are actually being taken, so everyone NEEDS to comment by 03 Nov. This is only for FOREST SERVICE land, not all of which is truly “wilderness”– ie, Tonto National Forest, etc. LINK FOR POSTING COMMENTS: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FS-2014-0007
Brian Drourr says
The directive, which has been on the books for 48 months but hasn’t been enforced, is intended to tighten restrictions on people and organizations that derive commercial gain or seek to raise funds through images taken within the 36 million acres of wilderness area managed by the Forest Service.
The proposed rules would require newspaper photographers, television producers or filmmakers to obtain a special use permit before entering a wilderness area — unless they were covering “breaking news.” A Forest Service supervisor would then determine whether the story has merit under the criteria of the directive.”
It does not apply to artistic photographers not on a commercial shoot in restricted areas READ THE GUIDELENDS! use your brains and think critically for one minute with out loosing your shit over something that does not apply to you.
This is only for commercial filming. Not for non-commercial recreational use, as defined here:(c) A special use authorization is not required for noncommercial recreational activities, such as camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and horseback riding, or for noncommercial activities involving the expression of views, such as assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, and parades, unless:
(1) The proposed use is a noncommercial group use as defined in §251.51 of this subpart;
(2) The proposed use is still photography as defined in §251.51 of this subpart; or
(3) Authorization of that use is required by an order issued under §261.50 or by a regulation issued under §261.70 of this chapter.
(d) Travel on any National Forest System road shall comply with all Federal and State laws governing the road to be used and does not require a special use authorization, unless:
(1) The travel is for the purpose of engaging in a noncommercial group use, outfitting or guiding, a recreation event, commercial filming, or still photography, as defined in §251.51 of this subpart, or for a landowner’s ingress or egress across National Forest System lands that requires travel on a National Forest System road that is not authorized for general public use under §251.110(d) of this part; or
(2) Authorization of that use is required by an order issued under §261.50 or by a regulation issued under §261.70 of this chapter.
Christine Nimitz says
That legalese really doesn’t clear things up. And if you read comments from some other photographers, they have been harassed by Forest Service personnel, who clearly don’t understand the legalese either. However, the Forest Service did post a clarification of its guidelines in normal English. Unfortunately, I can’t find that link now. It would be nice if the clarification link were posted by someone, preferably at the top of the blog, as an update/end of discussion.
Christine Nimitz says
Supposedly. However, there’s still fairly broad leeway for interpretation by overzealous rangers.
Jim Egner says
Well why does this surprise me, lately seems that the Gov. has no respect for any laws that our Nations leaders put in place 200 plus years ago. National parks were created for the enjoyment of all. To preserve what beauty our nation has to offer. Isn’t that what we do as photographers, we preserve the beauty for all to enjoy for generations to come. So do you now charge artistic painters as well? They do exactly what we do. We the people…is starting to have less meaning everyday. My retirement is being dedicated to photographing 50 states. I am not changing my plans. If that means breaking some rules, well I guess you will see me on Americas Most Wanted, lol.
Ken Hendrix says
The forest service is not the only place with ridiculous policies on cameras. Arizona State Park, Kartchner Caverns bans cameras entirely from the cave tour.
One of my favorite photos is one I call Up Yours Kartchner Caverns. Its a picture of the column Kubla Khan taken with a first generation iPhone. It also surprised me as it turned out way better than expected.
Charging photographers or banning cameras is a lost cause unless you also ban all phones. Even then banning photography won’t work as enterprising photographers will start hiding phones on their person. If its a open park, banning or charging for cameras will only sell more drones.
Well now you can gladly pay Kartchner a huge fee to take photos but can not show them to anyone – they are for personal use only, which is pointless to pay a commercial size fee and not be able to use the images
Earnie Glazener says
Those who think this is only for big productions, go to the Forest Service page and read the guidelines. VERY broadly worded, and you can bet enforcement will be strictly interpreted by the enforcing rangers. We have a WA state law like this, and if you pull out a tripod or a small light stand–bingo, commercial use. Want to shoot a photo at a national park and sell it as fine art? Bingo, commercial use. Etc. Etc. I get they want large scale productions like movies to pay. Sure. But this WILL affect any photographer that wants to shoot there. Bad news.
Statism and the drive to constrain Liberty and collect revenue never cease their forward march.
Record/film every encounter with any agent of any government entity. Ensure your phone auto uploads to Dropbox or a similar service. Publish videos of transgressions.
Gary Nickell says
You can now buy an 8×10 print of mine now for a mere $1550.00, plus, plus.
Ok, I read today (supposedly) due to the public outrage – that the government has delayed the finalizing of the rules we are speaking about- I am not so sure this is good, they may be just waiting for the hype of this outrage to “die” down and then pass the law. Photography is not a crime and all these laws are really taking away from our 1st amendment rights. Keep an eye on this issue!!!
ABC News picked it up too
April Pak says
People who have invested in high quality cameras should not have to think twice about bringing them on to our public lands and looking over their shoulder if they bring out a tri-pod. Professional photography artists (even if they have a good following) can’t or won’t pay this kind of $ for subject matter. While the rules may not be intended to be used against them, it sounds like they have been written so broadly that they can be. We are all for preserving public lands for future generations, but this is not the way to go about it.
I agree, Photography is not a crime!
Genia Gartner says
“Individuals who want to shoot on wild lands won’t need a permit, even if they plan to sell their photographs, except if it involves props. Fees for permits vary by size. Groups of up to three will pay $10 a day, while crews of 80 shooting movies usually pay around $800 a day, Tidwell said.”
Now $10 a day is a more reasonable amount to ask, although you would think your park fees would give you access to take a camera (lol)
“Generally, professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models …” per US Forest Service Chief. This quote is from the a US Forest Service news release dated 9/25/14. http://www.fs.fed.us/news/releases/us-forest-service-chief-i-will-ensure-first-amendment-upheld-under-agency-commercial Not only will you be required to pay a fee for the permit but will need to go to a Forest Service office in advance to get the permit for a specific date which is even more burdensome than having to pay a fee just because you are photographing someone who looks like they could be a model and using a professional looking camera. I have already been stopped from photographing a model on the Tonto National Forest as these rules have only been in effect for a few years but have not been widely enforced yet. This directive will affect amateur photographers who photograph amateur models or who might occasionally sell a print or use professional looking cameras, tripods, flash and umbrellas.
You can comment on this Directive before Nov 3 here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FS-2014-0007-0001
“Generally, professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models …” per US Forest Service Chief 9/25/14 http://www.fs.fed.us/news/releases/us-forest-service-chief-i-will-ensure-first-amendment-upheld-under-agency-commercial
I have already been stopped by a ranger on the Tonto National Forest for photographing a model as the rules have already been in effect for a few years but not widely enforced. Under this directive you will need to go to a Forest Service Office in advance to buy a permit for a specific date if you want to photograph a model in the National Forest. We should all complain to our senators and congressmen about this directive.
Status update: Here’s a letter sent to the USDA today from two Senators. http://www.wyden.senate.gov/download/?id=74538550-B944-4EB8-AD82-4C4ED6903ACF&download=1
Here is a Video about Fine art vs Commercial Photog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy_iI6hMI4I
Its actually all in the USE of the image fine art falls under “Retail” described well by ASMP in this article – I think you should all read this https://asmp.org/tutorials/licensing-guide.html#.VN-mOVXF87k
Dave Sattler says
Just tried to see what permits available. These are commercial use. If you shoot and sell for that reason it is commercial. No business licence in hand only a web site, Their definitions are pretty clear and obvious. If you are a pro photographer on vacation and shoot for personal use, like no models or props, just fuzzy waterfalls, your probably not going to get fined. I have to dig deeper. I know in Cancun no professional photography was not allowed, and I brought 75 lbs of gear, I was sweating a bit. but all was cool at the border, just a hobby guy.