As a new photographer, the thrill of finding that picture perfect location for your shoots is exhilarating. You’ve tested out the location with a friend and you can’t wait to book your next session there. There are a few things to consider before you book your first shoot there.
Parks are expensive to upkeep and maintain. And while photography is usually allowed in national, state, and local parks, they are usually open to all of the public, they can easily become off limits to photographers if they aren’t respected.
So to save you- and our parks- some heartache, we put together a few tips on how to keep our parks (aka locations) beautiful for all to enjoy.
Make sure to do a little research first to learn the rules and ensure you are allowed to photograph at your chosen location
Let’s start with the basics- in the simplest terms, you want to always leave the park as you found it. Many parks do not have trash cans as they want you to take out what you bring in. Bring a trash bag for anything you use and take it with you to throw away when you leave the park.
If there is a trash can, please don’t leave food in the trash cans as they aren’t always emptied every night. Food in the trash cans causes animals to dig around and spill out the contents of the trash can while they are trying to find the food.
Ideally you can scout the location a few days before and see if there are any areas roped off for regrowth - this way you can have options prepared as a backup. Sometimes your client might want a specific spot in the park and having an alternative spot ready to go will allow you to guide them to an alternative location if it is suddenly off limits.
Try not to use a spot repeatedly at times when you notice other park goers are trying to use that area. Regularly dominating a certain spot so it is not available to park goers may lead to photographers getting banned from the park.
Constantly asking park visitors to move from enjoying the park to accommodate your photoshoot is another sure fire way to get yourself and other photographers banned from shooting there.
Bringing furniture and large props not only ruin the grass and the area around it but they interfere with other park goers just enjoying the park. Let the surrounding nature highlight your shoot.
Parks have different rules for blankets - it depends on their ability to water the grass. Some parks don’t allow blankets for the simple reason that blankets create a greenhouse effect on the turf. The area under the blanket gets quite warm and damages the grass, and it needs a significant amount of time to recover. In a nutshell- even if the park allows blankets, try to limit the amount of time that the blanket is covering the grass.
Some great organizations have created a list of seven principles that we can use as a guide as we go into nature, simply to visit or to do a photoshoot.
For more information about the seven principles practices used to protect and preserve natural spaces, visit:
If you have found the perfect park to have your next photo shoot, these tips will help you to take amazing pictures and be kind to nature. If we all focus on these earth-friendly practices when we are photographing in parks, we can help to leave no trace and allow future photographers to continue to use these beautiful locations.
The best impact you can make on the world is to leave as little impact as possible, so all of us can experience the same great locations tomorrow as we do today.