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Commercial Photography in the Parks

Fairfax County parks offer scenic locations for portrait and professional photography just right for engagements, weddings, anniversaries, senior portraits, and family keepsakes.

Photographers can choose from a rich variety of landscapes and architectural backdrops to set the mood for your photographs. There are lakefronts, gardens, farm, and historic venues that span the centuries from colonial to modern.

All professional photographers are required to obtain a Commercial Photography Permit. The 2015 requirements for commercial photographers conducting business in local parks and the start-up of an Ambassadors Club for photographers becomes effective July 1, 2015. The changes to the permits reflect concerns aired by commercial photographers regarding costs for permitting and the Fairfax County Park Authority Board's decision to continue to implement fees for those conducting business in parks. The Park Authority is authorized by Virginia Code §15.2-5704: Powers of Authority and §15.2-5709: Rates and Charges to promulgate Business Activity Licenses and Fees.

The commercial photography permit has been in place since 2011. The fee defrays the costs of the impact to the parks including but not limited to; staffing cost for management of the activity, staff cost to prepare the area, damage to flora, interruption of programming and removal or destruction of park furnishings.

Recreational photographers are not impacted by the permitting requirement. However, as of July 1, 2015 all commercial photographers conducting business in FCPA at park properties must have an annual Commercial Photography Permit.

Fees and Reservations:

The annual Commercial Photography Permit covers commercial photography at over 400 parks without additional fees or reservations necessary. The permit is good for one year from the date of purchase. The $25 permit can be purchased online by credit card.

Reservations and additional fees apply at the following sites: Green Spring Gardens, Colvin Run Mill, Sully Historic Site and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, as follows:

  • For small group photo sessions (total of 11 people or less, including photography staff), no additional fees or site Photo Session Reservations are necessary.
  • Reservations for groups of 12 or more are confirmed when the fee is paid.
  • For groups of 12-19 people (including photography staff), a Photo Session Reservation (with additional fees) is required. The fees are $25 per hour with a two-hour minimum.
  • For large groups of 20-74 the fees are $100 for each two-hour photo session and an additional $50 per hour thereafter.
  • The two-hour minimum was established to ensure photographers have sufficient time to prepare, conduct and clean up after the session. Photo Session Reservations and fees are processed by the individual sites, on a space-available basis.  REQUEST PHOTO SESSION RESERVATION
  • If an FCPA venue is rented for an event, then photographer fees are waived.

Commercial Photography Permits

Commercial Photography Permit

All commercial photographers conducting business on Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) property or in FCPA facilities must obtain a photography permit. With the permit you will have a scheduled use of the park area, avoiding conflicts with other groups and events.


You must have a member record established to make online purchases. If you have previously taken a program with the Park Authority or receive Parktakes magazine in the mail, you already have a member number.

Your member number is printed above your name on the mailing label of the magazine.


Please submit a NEW MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION online or call 703-222-4664, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's FREE!


Please read and acknowledge the Rules and Regulations below, prior to purchasing the permit online:

Click Here: I have read and agree to abide by the Rules and Regulations


The receipt from your online transaction will serve as a temporary permit. Within two weeks, you will receive your annual permit and holder in the mail. Please carry the permit with you when conducting commercial shoots in the parks.

Permit holders will automatically become part of the Photographer's Ambassador's Club which will include periodic newsletters and information about Park Authority sites that are perfect for photo shoots, as well as opportunities to participate in photography shows, and to learn about classes and other activities related to photography. Those who wish to participate in the creation of Ambassador's Club activities and materials are asked to contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.


Reservations and additional fees apply at the following sites: Green Spring Gardens, Colvin Run Mill, Sully Historic Site and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.

Please complete the information below. Bold fields are required.

Yes No

Requested  (mm/dd/yy)

Other park use permits for shelters, business activity licenses, and more may be obtained at Park Use Permits.

If you have questions or would like more information,
please contact us at:

email Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov

FCPA does not provide staff to open the spaces in off hours or monitor the photography session which must take place during site operation hours.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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