Hamilton County parks requiring professional photographers to obtain permit to shoot on-site

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Hamilton County Parks and Recreation’s policy requiring the registration of professional photographers and videographers conducting commercial operations in its parks drew some immediate questions from the community.

Don Nicholls, HCPR resource development specialist, said the policy was made public via a departmental Facebook posting Jan. 4. The subsequent clarification, after being reviewed by parks leadership, was then posted on the Facebook page Jan. 6. The fees are $10 for a single day or $50 for an annual permit.

“Compared to other (similar) photo permit fees, these costs are very nominal,” Nicholls said. “The park board approved the policy based on input they received from park staff. If you perform an online search of park agencies, you will learn that it is common practice for parks agencies to have a photo-permitting program in place.”

The department clarified amateur and casual photographers in county parks do not require a permit. Media photographers also are exempt.

According to the post, the policy was established because HCPR was regularly receiving concerns from park users about professional photographers or videographers interfering with park guests’ enjoyment. The new policy will have other benefits as well.

First, the contact information of registrants will allow effective and efficient communication of current and updated rules and regulations governing professional photography and videography on county park property.

Other reasons listed were safety, privacy and enforcement. The post said certain areas of county parks are closed because of flooding or other public safety concerns. Communication of the conditions and subsequent precautions and restrictions can be immediately sent to registrants. Additionally, on occasion, special events or functions require temporary limiting of access to a park or areas within a park. The information can be shared quickly with registered photographers and videographers to avoid needless travel to a county park only to learn the location intended for the shoot is inaccessible.

Another reason given for the policy is protection of sensitive nature or wildlife areas. In designated locations and during a specific time frame, the policy states accessibility to certain park areas may be restricted to the public, including photographers and videographers, to ensure the protection of wildlife and nature-related activities.   

The final reason given was the department will have registration information to contact professional photographers and videographers to alert them of opportunities to capture images within the county park system. Photo opportunities at programs, events and activities will be regularly shared with registrants.

For registration information or to request additional details regarding the registration process, call 317-770-4400 or email hamilton.parks@hamiltoncounty.in.gov.


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