What to Know About Taking Engagement Photos in a National Park

It's important to be a responsible visitor and respect the park's policies.

yolana douglas wedding couple in field in front of mountains
Photo: Tasha Seccombe Photography

Love your national parks? You're not alone! The National Park Services reported a whopping 297,115,406 recreation visits in 2021. If you're considering heading out to your favorite park for an engagement photo session, there are a few things you should know before you go.

Research and plan ahead for permits.

The National Park Service has strict regulations around photography permits, and you'll want to be sure to research this in advance of your engagement shoot so you don't get hit with fines. The permits aren't very expensive for small crews—a still photography permit costs $50 for a crew of up to ten people—and according to NPS, a permit is usually not necessary for casual, non-commercial filming.

Respect the land and be a responsible park visitor.

If you're planning your engagement shoot in a national park, it's likely because you love the park and want to keep visiting it for years to come. As such, it's important that you stick to the trails, pack out everything you bring in, respect the animals and give them their space (and whatever you do, don't feed them!), store your photo shoot snacks properly, and know the park's rules. A quick call or visit to the park's visitor's center should guide you through the basics. These rules are in place not only to protect the land, but also its animals and visitors.

Skip the weekends and peak hours.

If possible, try to arrange your engagement photo shoot for a weekday or off-peak time. Some parks will see upwards of 500,000 visitors in one month during peak season. If you don't want to be surrounded by swarms of people during your photo session, contact the park of your choice to find out the quietest times to visit. Sunrise and sunset may be the best hours for photography, but they can often be the busiest times for the parks. Know before you go so you can plan accordingly.

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