Yellowstone Rules for Commercial Photography
If you think you have the great American nature documentary somewhere in your soul, and you'd like to shoot it at Yellowstone National Park, they'd like to remind you of the rules...
Yellowstone National Park takes the opportunity early each calendar year to remind news reporters, still photographers, and film, video and audio crews to review permitting regulations before attempting to capture images and sounds in the park.
Shooting photos and videos in Yellowstone for personal use does not require a permit. However, federal regulations and National Park Service (NPS) policies place some restrictions on other types of film, photography, and media activities due to concerns over visitor safety and impacts on fragile park resources.
Permits are not usually required for news-gathering organizations. However, news crews larger than two people or those using satellite trucks, production vehicles and some specialized equipment may require a permit due to the potential impact on park visitors and resources. While NPS employees performing their duties in public may be photographed or recorded at any time, any personal interviews must be arranged in advance through the park’s Public Affairs Office at 307-344-2015 or by email at YELL_Public_Affairs@nps.gov. Park entrance fees are typically waived for members of the media who are gathering news inside the park. Journalists should be prepared to present appropriate identification at park entrance stations or any time upon request of a uniformed NPS employee. Anyone traveling through the park for projects outside park boundaries must pay the park entrance fee.
The regulations are somewhat different for film, video and audio crews who are not involved in daily news gathering activities. As a general rule, a film permit is required for any individual, business, group, organization or institution that may be paid, reimbursed, or provided any measure of financial or in-kind support for any costs associated with an audio, film, or video produced within Yellowstone National Park. This applies not only to those shooting feature films, but those who capture audio, film, or video footage for documentaries, news magazines, commercial advertisements, school projects, product demonstrations, web sites or promotional or training films, videos, or stock footage.
Permits are not required for amateur or professional still photographers taking landscape photos. However, commercial still photographers using models, props, special lighting or specialized equipment may be required to secure a film permit. Portrait and wedding photographers must have a permit if they choose to use the images for advertising purposes in print or online. Still photographers taking photos of park employees for magazine use may also be required to have a permit. Time-lapse photography requires a permit if the images are presented in a moving film or video sequence as opposed to individual stills. Additional details regarding film permits are available online at www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/filmpermit.htm or by calling the park’s Visitor Services Office at 307-344-2107. It takes at least ten business days to process a request for a film permit. Crews are strongly advised not to make any travel arrangements until a permit is approved.
News crews and those working under a film permit are generally allowed to work only in the same areas accessible to the general public. Travel off boardwalks or off established trails in thermal areas is always prohibited. Crews are also advised to avoid working during peak visitation times in high-traffic areas. An application fee as well as costs associated with having one or more uniformed NPS employee monitors on hand during filming may also be required as a condition of a permit. Film and news crews are reminded that violation of any park regulation or terms of a permit may result in issuance of a violation notice and/or suspension of privileges granted by a permit.