Should Photographers Pay To Photograph In Conservation Areas?

A lone road driving thru some Giant Sequoia trees.Community

A lone road driving thru some Giant Sequoia trees.

There are more than 1,000 conservation areas and natural areas in Missouri administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) that are popular with photographers and videographers. In addition to taking photos or videos of wildlife and local landscapes, the areas are ideal locations for recording family and other group photos and videos. MDC is now considering most of the fees associated with the areas. They want the public’s opinion before making the final decision.

Current Fees

Currently, MDC regulations require photographers who work in MDC areas to purchase a Commercial Photography Permit for $100 if their activities result in a financial gain or benefit. Commercial Videography Permits are required if the activities directly or indirectly result in financial gain or benefit in MDC areas. The current fee for the permit is $500 per day.

There are few exceptions to these requirements, regardless of the amount of profit or benefit to the photographer or videographer. Some exceptions are news agencies not requiring commercial permits and conservation-related organizations waiving permit fees where the project can promote or benefit conservation.

MDC began requiring commercial permits and associated fees in 2020 to allow commercial photography and videography activities on MDC lands, which had previously been prohibited. MDC has received substantial public feedback that the regulations and fees are too burdensome for many “hobby” photographers and videographers. Consequently, MDC has proposed eliminating the need for permits and fees associated with commercial photography and videography [1].


The MDC will issue a special permit feen certain situations:

  • Access during closed hours or to portions of the area closed to public use;
  • Use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) or drone;
  • Use of props, sets, or equipment that are more than a single person can carry; or
  • More than 10 people will be participating in the activity for the day.

One can go here to give his opinion on the matter. The MDC Commission will then give the regulation changes final consideration at its March 14 open meeting. If approved, the regulation changes would become effective July 1.


  1. ^ (go back  ↩)

Leave a Reply