Professional Photography Policy

Wake County’s parks and preserves provide the perfect backdrop for your bridal, graduation, prom or family photos. To ensure that all park visitors have an enjoyable experience, registration is required for professional, client-based photo shoots.

Registration Process

All photographers conducting client-based photography must register online and obtain a permit reserving a date and time before starting their photo shoot. Registration is free.

Through the online registration process you must agree to abide by all park rules (see below). Once you register and obtain your permit, please print your permit and keep it with you when you come to the park. While you will not need to check in with staff, you might be asked by park staff to show proof of permit. Failure to furnish a permit will result in being asked to end the photo shoot.

Amateur/Professional Photography Guidelines

  1. Photographer and clients will stay out of all restricted areas, please see attachment for restricted areas.
  2. Photographer and clients will conduct themselves in a proper and professional manner.
    1. Lewd or lascivious behavior including language or photographs is prohibited.
    2. Park staff has the authority to expel photographers and/or their clients from the park if the actions of the photographers and/or clients are deemed improper by park staff.
  3. Photographer and clients will not impede normal park operations and programming.
    1. The party is not permitted to disrupt park visitors or staff.
    2. No associated equipment for a photo shoot is permitted in any indoor buildings or allowed to block visitor entrances and pathways.
  4. No special consideration shall be given (golf carts, security, use of prohibited park equipment, etc.)
    1. No power or electrical power will be provided by Wake County Parks for the purposes of film, video or photography projects.
  5. Photographer and clients will only use the park during regular park hours.
  6. Photographer and clients will not disturb any natural or man-made park features, for example:
    1. Vegetation and wildlife will not be disturbed or removed.
    2. Decorations used must have prior approval by park management.
    3. Signage will not be used.
  7. Photographer is responsible for familiarizing themselves, and informing all of their clients, of all park rules and regulations, and then to adhere to them when at the park.
  8. Wake County reserves the right to have full/correct name of location of photo taken in documentation.
  9. Wake County reserves the right to prohibit any projects which are not in the best interest of the County.
  10. Each Wake County Park reserves the right to establish a permitting process to manage level of photographer impact.

Commercial Photography Guidelines

Any professional photography or photography/filming for commercials, such as sales of products and political advertising, movies, video, television productions shall be subject to the conditions set by Wake County.

Photographer should notify park staff in advance of planned use.

a. It is advised that photographer use the park when other park functions are not in progress.

b. Arrangements for a photo shoot for commercials, film and etc.

Park Use Agreement will be initiated by park management and used to confirm session.

Photographer must show proof of Liability Insurance and will take responsibility for clients at all times while using the park. Photographer will be held liable for any damage to the park caused by themselves or their clients.

Park Specific Rules

In addition to these general rules, the following restrictions are in place at our individual parks. Check each park’s website for further information.

Blue Jay Point County Park

No photography at the Overnight Lodge (including decks, walkways, fire pit area around overnight facility) without prior approval.

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Photography is prohibited:

  • Under the mill.
  • On the mill dam beyond the south side abutment (i.e., spillway “bump-up”).
  • Beyond the wooden arm located near the waterwheel.
  • At least 20 feet from the waterwheel on the south side of the creek.

Historic Oak View County Park

  • No cameras/equipment/photography in the interior of any buildings.
  • Do not enter any animal pen or send subjects into any animal pen.
  • Do not climb any trees or have subjects pose in any trees.
  • Do not block paths or entrances to buildings with cameras, equipment or subjects.

Harris Lake County Park

Photography is prohibited:

  • In the Duke Energy Progress Exclusion Zone.
  • In specific area during forest management practices (i.e., prescribed burning).

Lake Crabtree County Park

Photography is prohibited:

  • At the outflow structure.
  • At the marsh area west of Aviation Parkway.

Crowder County Park

There are no special restrictions at this time.

American Tobacco Trail

  • Photographers and subjects must remain on trail surface and trail property.
  • The policy only covers the Wake County portion of the American Tobacco Trail.

Green Hills County Park

There are no special restrictions at this time.

Photographer Registration FAQs

Q: How do I create my customer account?
A: Professional photographers who want to conduct client-based photo shoots must register in advance. Before registering for a permit, you must establish a customer account with a login name and password. This is how you create an online registration account:

  • Navigate to ActiveNet and click on the “Create an Account” button in the top righthand corner of the page
  • Fill out the form for “New Account Request” completely, including all required fields, and click submit. Please submit your request only once.
  • You will automatically receive an email after submitting your request for an account. Your account will be activated only after you have responded by clicking on the link provided in the email.

After you create your account, you will log into that account any time you wish to secure additional photo permits. Your email address is your login. Please be advised that your login is case sensitive.


Q: How do I reserve a photo permit?
A: You can reserve a photo permit designating a date and time for your client-based photo shoot through our online reservation system.

Navigate to the park’s reservation page, which can be found here

Make sure you are logged into your customer account (click “Sign In” in the upper right-hand corner). Details for how to create an account are listed above.

  • You will need to first check if the date and time you desire are available. To do that, at the top of the page select the desired date, time and number of attendees. Then click “Check Availability.” After the page refreshes, scroll so you can see the five camera icons. If the icon is green, that means the permit is available for you to reserve. If the icon is red or black, that means there are no available permits, or the park is closed to photography. If that is the case, you will need to select a different date or time for your photo shoot.
  • To reserve your permit, you will then need to click the green camera icon. A small window will pop up over the map called Reservation Summary. It will ask you to name your permit (your company or client’s name is sufficient) and you will want to review the details to make sure the date, time, and attendee number is correct. If so, then click reserve.
  • *Note that if you have not logged into your customer account the system will now prompt you to log in. However, be advised that once you are logged in you will have to repeat the process of checking availability and reserving your permit, so it is much easier if you begin the process already logged in.


Q: What are the rules for the permit system?
A: The system establishes rules and procedures for client-based photography. They include:

  • Permits are available to reserve from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., but reservations must adhere to parks’ closing times, which vary depending on time of the year.
  • Permit times are a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 3 hours, along with a maximum of 2 permits per photographer per day (a maximum of 6 hours total)
  • There is a maximum of 30 attendees per reservation
  • There is a maximum of 5 available permits per time slot. Permit times may overlap between different photographers, but that means there will only be five permitted photographers on park grounds at any given point in time. So, if you are having trouble securing your desired time, try shifting the time by 30 minutes to an hour to check for availability.
  • Photographers must comply with the scheduled date and time of their permit. If you conduct a photo shoot outside of the designated date and/or times on your permit you will be asked by staff to end your photo shoot immediately.
  • You must also agree to abide by all park rules to secure your permit.


Q: Who is required to have a photo permit? 
A: Anyone using a Wake County park or preserve as a backdrop for a photo shoot must have a photo permit designating a date and time for your client-based photo shoot. Failure to furnish proof of permit or failure to conform to the scheduled date and time of the permit will result in being asked to end the photo shoot immediately.

Q: How can I view a comprehensive list of my permits?
A: The “My Account” feature allows you to view a list of your permits.

  • Sign into your account and click on the “My Account” link.
  • Under the "Payment and Order Management" heading, click "Transaction and Payment History."
  • A list of all your reservations and permits will show up. To view a specific permit, click on the permit number.


Q: How do I change the date or time of my permit?
A: Permits cannot be edited. You would first cancel your existing permit (by contacting the park) and then you will need to reserve a new permit with the updated date and/or time you desire.


Q: How do I cancel my permit?
A: Contact the park to cancel your permit. Contact information for each park can be found here. This ensures that if you no longer need to use your permit that spot can be freed up to another photographer.


Q: How do I use a mobile phone/tablet to reserve a permit?
A: Mobile phone/tablet users need to navigate to the "full site" option. Click the menu bars at the top left part of your screen, click the "full site" link, and then the "Reservations" tab will appear. You can view step-by-step images below:

Three screen shots from a mobile phone that show the steps to view the full version of the ActiveNet website