For years, I never wanted to photograph in DC because the thought just gave me so much anxiety! Logistically getting there, traffic, not to mention the permit you had to apply for just to photograph there. In the Spring of 2018, I had so many requests for cherry blossom sessions, I knew I had to get over my fear and go for it. I wanted to photograph the iconic cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. I’m so glad I did because applying for the permit wasn’t hard at all and the cherry blossoms were just gorgeous! Depending where in DC you want to photograph, the process and payment may differ. This post is my experience on How to Apply for a DC Photography Permit on the National Mall.

According to the National Mall and Memorial Parks Staff “no matter how small or large your session is, you’re required to have a permit.”

How do you Apply for a DC Photography Permit? It’s easy. Follow these steps below.

1. Go to this link: NPS Application for Still Photography Permit, and fill out the application. There is a $90 processing fee that is required when you turn in your application.

2. Mail the application to NPS. The address is listed at the top.

3. Someone from NPS will reach out to you via email a few days prior to your photography session.

4. You will need to sign the PDF sent and email it back.

5. NPS will then email you your issued permit that you will need to keep with you when you photograph in DC the day of your session.

The permit itself is $50 for 10 people or less; however, in addition there is a $90 application fee. Your total permit fee would be $140 each time you apply for a photography permit. See more below.

Commercial Filming/Videos
2-10 people $150/day
11-30 people $250/day
31-49 people $500/day
50 people or more $750/day

Still Photography
1-10 people $50/day
11-30 people $150/day
30 people or more $250/day

Click here to read FAQs.

– How long does the permit process take? It could be a few days or a few weeks, depending how busy the office is. You should give yourself at least 2 weeks just in case.

– What happens if the weather is bad, the cherry blossoms haven’t bloomed yet, or a ton of other reasons why your session would need to be reschedule? You can email the office and ask to change the permit date and you’re done! Easy peasy.

To get more information about DC permits go to the NPS website or to Kate Forder’s website where she breaks down several DC area locations and the permit process for each.

Sarah Botta is a Northern Virginia based wedding photographer whose work can be described as organic, natural, and timeless. Sarah specializes in capturing people’s stories and building connections with each client to help tell their story. Sarah has photographed over 30 weddings across Virginia and Maryland from rustic outdoor ceremonies to elaborate estate mansion receptions. Her natural timeless style shines brightest with outdoor locations. Sarah is available for travel and is passport ready.