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Photographing in Nevada State Parks for Many Will Likely Require a Permit

March 24, 2014 Legal, Nature 2 Comments

Written by: Charlie Borland

Valley of Fire is an awesome place and I love to photograph there. The Nevada State Parks has, like many state parks and the National Park Service, fees for commercial photography. The NPS fees have been around a long time, (I am not sure NSP’s) and it has been long understood that if you go to a park with crew(s) for a commercial style shoot, you buy a permit.

What will make the NSP new rules different is that anyone with the intent (or not?) of making money off their pictures, is now a commercial photographer and would be required to get a permit. At least that is how I read it. Here is part of the language:

“photography engaged in for financial gain, including, without limitation, the sale of a photographic image as a product or for use in advertising, motion pictures, television productions or portfolios and the archiving of an image by a person who uses photographic skills, equipment or resources to provide a photographic product for sale.”

Portfolios? Are you kidding?

I can take a picture at Valley of Fire and post it on my G+ page and wham, I am now classified as a commercial photographer because my G+ page is a portfolio?

I have tried to think of the other ways I might fall into their definition of commercial photographer:

  • I take one of my pictures from my visit last year and place it in a slide show with images from all over America and show it at a workshop I am paid to teach.
  • Nevada state tourism sees my image online and wants to put it in the tourism book.
  • A postcard company sees my well tagged image online and offers to add it to their line of Nevada postcards and offers me $35 which means I should have obtained the $50 daily permit.
  •  My cousin wants a 16×20 print.

nv_valleyfire_whitedome_borland1109_5600I could go on and on imagining all kinds of a wild scenarios. It seems easy to interpret the above language (I am not a lawyer) as such: it matters not what you do in the park when taking pictures but rather what you do outside the park as a photographer, that qualifies your time in the park as commercial activity establishing whether or not a permit is required. And what I mean is, if I work for a shoe manufacturer as a staff photographer shooting shoes for the website, but love landscape photography and post my pictures on Flickr, the mere fact that I make my living as a photographer means my presence in the park with a camera requires a permit.

Again, I am no lawyer but that is how I interpret the above.

So are photographers the cause of all of this? Have they been reaping windfall profits from images of Nevada State Parks? If that is what NSP is thinking, where did they get that information?

Now I am going to let my imagination run even more wild: How will they determine who with a camera requires a permit besides those who admit they are there for commercial purposes and planned on getting a permit?

  • Will there be car searches looking for ‘professional’ cameras?
  • If you wear a camera backpack will you be considered pro (because amateurs have shoulder bags)?
  • Will the NSP Publishing Patrols be scouring books, magazines, and websites looking for published images of NSP’s and then search for the photographer to establish whether they had a permit?

Again, I could go on and on.

Here is Carol Wrights post in her blog: Photo Attorney.

So how would you interpret how this will work? Please leave a comment.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Stratocaster says:

    What ever happened to the notion of “get the government off the people’s backs”? (Unless they can make some money by hassling us.) Don’t make a video with your iPhone and post it to G+ or it will become part of your “portfolio”. And of course everyone pays an entrance fee to get into Valley of Fire SP (been there; one day it was 107 in the shade and set a record).

    Vote with your feet and your wallets. Remind them about the aphorism regarding biting the hand that feeds.

    But all this is short-term thinking. Steve Wynn is going to buy Valley of Fire and build a hotel and golf resort.

  2. admin says:

    There is a public hearing on this issue set for March 31st and I hope some in the area will jump in. I wonder if all thjose site seeing helicopters from Vegas fly over Valley of Fire and if so, pay a permit as

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