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

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.”

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Why The Debate Over Image Manipulation Is Mostly a Waste of Time

The debate over whether or not image manipulation should be done and whether it is ethical or not rages on and in my opinion, much of it is unnecessary.

The opinions vary widely over disclosing what is real and what is not and some question whether any digital photograph can be believed. There are now even attempts to set ethical standards for digital photography manipulation.

Images have been manipulated since photography was invented and some of the most recognized photographers in history were heavy manipulators, like Ansel Adams among many others. You have probably already heard this argument. His and many others works are celebrated today as the Master’s of the medium.

Magazines, ad agencies, and other end-users routinely manipulate both stock and assignment photos. Most of the time the viewer never knows, unless a poor manipulation lands the image on the Photoshop errors sites. Rarely does anyone cry foul, unless of course the photographer did the poor job or cheated some rules.


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Have You Been Asked To Show Your Filming Permit In A National Park?

Many years ago I was stopped in Big South Fork of the Cumberland River by a park ranger who had seen my “big camera,” as she described it, and wondered what I was doing.

My “big camera” was my 4×5 field camera and in our subsequent conversation she wondered if I was doing commercial photography. I told her that I was a traveling nature photographer and using a big camera for the quality of imagery it delivered.

I also told her that I was not doing commercial photography but even if I was, the fact I was by myself no permit was required. She begged to differ so I pulled out of my camera backpack a tattered Xerox copy of Title 36, Section 5.5 of the U.S. Commercial Code which relates to filming and photography rules for federal lands.

After a few minutes we parted ways, on friendly terms, and I went about shooting. But I hear from time to time that lone photographers who might have an HD dSLR with a microphone and accessories and shooting videos or stills are being questioned by park service personal as to whether they have a permit. 

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fishing yellowstone river fog foggy photograph

How to Approach Strangers and Ask for That Model Release

Have you ever been in the field photographing some great landscapes when you discover a person in your scene? Maybe your first thought was wishing they would hurry up and move and you contemplate asking them to do just that. But as you watch them you realize that what they are doing makes for a great shot and you begin shooting.

Later as you edit your images you realize that these are marketable images but you also realize that you can’t sell them without model releases. But now that you are back in the office, the chance to ask for and obtain a release may be too late.

You may be asking yourself: If only you had the nerve to ask for the release in the first place you wouldn’t be in this predicament. However, it is not easy to ask a stranger to sign a legal document and especially if you are shy by nature. Here are some ways to handle those situations.

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