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Commercial Photography and Videography Policy

The scenic beauty and outstanding wildlife within the forest preserves makes them extremely popular destinations for photographers. Nature photography is a great way to connect with and learn about our natural communities and the plants and animals they support. We hope you will visit year round to enjoy and capture special moments. To protect the quality of the preserves and the visitors’ experiences, undertaking commercial photography and videography projects in the preserves  requires a permit and compliance with the rules below.

Photography Permit

Personal Photography - Where photos captured in the forest preserves are for personal enjoyment and will not be copied, distributed, or offered for the purpose of payment. This does not require a permit.

Commerical Photography - Where photos captured in the forest preserves are used for commercial or re-sale purposes. This type of photography might consist of; family portraits, student or school event pictures, wedding pictures, where a photographer is being compensated for their work or work is being offered for sale, which was performed on forest preserve property.  This requires a permit.


Permit is subject to an application and fee submission. A one day permit is $25 for a Winnebago County resident, $35 for non-resident. A one year permit is $100 for a Winnebago County resident, $125 for non-resident. Purchase permit here

Photography Rules

  • Photography must be conducted during normal preserve use hours.

  • No photographer has exclusive rights to any preserve location. Be courteous to other preserve users.

  • Do not block or obstruct roadways, bridges, parking lots, paths, trails, buildings, or structures in any ways that prevents normal use by people and vehicles.

  • The use of temporary ground blinds is permissible as long as they are occupied and clearly marked with a permit copy affixed to the outside, viewable by staff and the public. No blinds may be left unattended.

  • Do not disturb, move, or cut any plants, trees or bushes, regardless of whether they are living or dead.

  • Do not disturb, chase or pursue wildlife. Any wildlife nesting season or caring for their young must be avoided. No baiting.

  • Nothing in photograph should be recognizable as a Forest Preserve logo, sign, vehicle, structure, building, or employee without prior approval by Executive Director.

  • Recognize that all other forest preserve rules and ordinances, State and Federal laws are in effect and apply at all times while conducting this activity in the forest preserves.

  • ID badge (or daily pass receipt) should be worn at all times while conducting commercial photography in preserves.

  • All other requests may be considered by the Executive Director

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