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County: Pros need permit to shoot photos or videos in parks

June 15, 2018
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Aldrink Ravines Overlook on Idema Explorers Trail in Grand Ravines park
The Aldrink Ravines Overlook on Idema Explorers Trail in Grand Ravines Park. Courtesy Ottawa County Parks Foundation

A county in the region will begin requiring special permits for commercial photographers and videographers who shoot in parks.

Starting this fall, Ottawa County will require permits and administrative fees from those types of pros doing business in the county’s parks. 

Fees for still photography are $25 per day, per location, or $150 per year. Videography fees are $100 per day, per location, or $600 per year. The county does not expect to make revenue from the fees.

Permits will be required if the pro sells produced images, uses imagery for advertisements, is paid for service while on park property or uses props or equipment not typical of amateurs.

A permit is not required for personal images, special-occasion images taken within a reserved area of the park, members of the media on official business or student projects produced only for a grade and not commercial use.

Aerial photography will not be permitted.

The county said a rule has been in place against operating commercial business in parks and open spaces since the beginning of the Parks Commission in 1987.

Those rules have historically not been enforced, but the commission decided to make a change.

“Recently, several photographers have taken advantage of that leniency and set up make-shift studios in the parks, complete with signage, props, lights and even a receptionist desk,” the county said. “Others frequently blocked trails or prevented regular users from accessing parts of the park.”

Rather than enforcing the rule against commercial shoots, knowing many families like to have professional shots taken in the parks, the commission voted to begin issuing permits to “cover the county's liability, while setting some important ground rules.”

Commercial photographers and videographers can view the application online and join a mailing list to stay updated on the changes.

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