Missouri Might Eliminate Photo Permit Fees at Conversation Areas

Missouri State Park

The Missouri Department of Conservation is looking to scrap permits and fees for commercial photographers in conservation areas.

The move comes after the conservation department received considerable complaints from “hobby” photographers and videographers who criticized the permit fees for being too expensive.

According to Fox2Now, photographers and videographers have been required to purchase a commercial use permit to shoot in areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation since 2020.

Commercial use is defined as any activity that directly or indirectly results in financial benefit or gain, or where money is exchanged in connection with the activity.

Although a commercial use permit is not needed for news agencies, it was required for any person or entity engaged in commercial photography or videography, such as professional photography, commercials, advertising, promotionals, television, or documentaries.

The photography permit cost $100 per year, while the videography permit could be purchased for a fee of $500 per day.


The Missouri Department of Conservation tells Fox2Now that it received “considerable public feedback” for the permits — with many complaining that the permit costs and fees were too much for “hobby” photographers and videographers.

In December, the Missouri Department of Conservation approved a proposal to eliminate the permits and fees.

The amendment will still require photographers and videographers to apply for a “Special Use Permit” if they are using an unmanned aerial system or a drone, if they plan to use props and equipment that are more than a single person can carry, or more than 10 individuals will be participating in the activity during one day.

Photographers and videographers will also need to get a “Special Use Permit” if they require access to conservation areas during closed hours or specific places closed to public use.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website, the proposed amendment will cost state agencies or political subdivisions approximately $15,800 in lost revenue annually.

The Question of Permits

In April, Grand Teton National Park canceled its plans to require permits from photographers looking to shoot any kind of portrait for clients in the Wyoming park — after the requirement was met with criticism from both photographers and First Amendment lawyers.

However, in August, PetaPixel reported on how a court upheld a National Park Service fee and permit requirement for commercial videography in national parks, overturning a previous ruling that found this requirement to be a violation of First Amendment rights.

Update 2/2: After publication, a representative from Missouri State Parks reached out to clarify that only the Missouri Department of Conservation is considering eliminating the fee charged for photography and not Missouri State Parks as previously stated. We apologize for the error.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.