MDC will require permits for commercial photography in conservation areas


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Photographers will soon need a permit for commercial or for-profit photography / videography on conservation areas in Missouri. The Missouri Wildlife Code amendment is effective July 1, 2021.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval to the Conservation Department to make the change.

What does this change mean? The professional photographer you hire to take your photos in any conservation area in Missouri will need to pay an annual permit fee of $ 100. Professional videographers will need a commercial videography license for any commercial videography on areas of the department with an associated fee of $ 500 per day.

Historically, the MDC has restricted professional or for-profit photography and filming in conservation areas. According to the MDC, the new regulations come amid demands from photographers and videographers to allow commercial photography and videography in conservation areas.

Commercial use

MDC defines commercial use as any activity that directly or indirectly results in financial gain, or where money is exchanged in the course of the activity. News agencies, amateur photographers and videographers, or those who take home photos or videos will not need a permit.

Photography and filming in MDC areas for non-commercial purposes has been and remains permitted in MDC areas without the need to obtain a commercial use permit.


Professional photographers and videographers can apply for MDC’s Commercial Use Permit at

The MDC will require a commercial photography license for commercial photographers in the departments with an associated fee of $ 100 per year (expires June 30 of each year). They will also need a commercial videography license for any commercial videography on MDC areas with an associated fee of $ 500 per day.

Commercial photographers will also need to apply for a special use permit free of charge in certain situations (allow 30 days for processing):

  • Special accommodations requested (activities normally prohibited in conservation areas, such as access outside opening hours, vehicles on non-public roads, etc.);
  • Use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) or drone;
  • Use of props (larger than what an average person could wear);
  • When more than ten people are involved;
  • On MDC areas associated with nature and education centers, staffed beaches, offices and the following departmental areas:
    • Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area
    • August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area
    • James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Reserve
    • Rockwoods Reservation

For more information on commercial photography and videography permits, visit

More details

Other county, state and federal land management agencies allow commercial photography and filming on their areas through the use of commercial permits with an associated fee. MDC staff looked at other agencies inside and outside the state to determine a pricing structure.

The Missouri Conservation Commission initially approved the regulation in September 2020. Following the Commission’s initial approval, the proposed regulation was submitted by the MDC to the Office of the Secretary of State for a 30-day public comment period in October 2020 After a review of the comments received. , the Council definitively approved the draft regulation in December 2020. The regulation comes into force on July 1.


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