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Rules for photography in Nevada State Parks

Slide Mountain reflection in Washoe Lake, south of Reno, Nevada.
Slide Mountain reflection in Washoe Lake, south of Reno, Nevada.
Photo © Stan White

Some of the Silver State's most scenic spots are within Nevada's state parks. That means lots of pictures are taken within the parks, from the shores of Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor to the stunning red landscapes of Valley of Fire near Las Vegas.

Commercial photography in the state parks has long required a permit, but what about those who want to take a few newlywed pictures at Lake Tahoe or use some shots of Cathedral Gorge to illustrate their website or simply post photos from a park on a file sharing site?

Several northern Nevada wedding photographers contend that the new fee structure is unfair and overly costly for their businesses. They say that the scheduling and heavy use issues with places like Valley of Fire simply don't apply up north. Photographers who carry their gear themselves and shoot a few pictures of a family or couple should be treated like any other park visitor and not charged the minimum $50 fee for shoots involving one to three vehicles or two to 15 people. Nevada State Parks Administrator Eric Johnson said he is sympathetic to the concerns and will seek to amend the regulations. However, that is likely to take months. Meanwhile, photographers shooting for money will be required to adhere to the current rules.

Problem is, the rules are murky. The park definition of commercial photography is "for financial gain" or for "portfolios and the archiving of an image by a person who uses photographic skills, equipment or resources to provide a photographic product for sale." You can get more details from the Nevada State Parks fees page.

So should you worry about taking pictures in state parks? Probably not, unless you are mounting a major photo shoot, in which case you need to submit an "Application for Commercial Photography." For the rest of us, Johnson said there are no plans to search the web for park photos or confront photographers who aren't impeding other visitors' use of a park.

Sources: Reno Gazette-Journal, Nevada State Parks.

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