I wanted to put together some information for Seattle photographers about the ins and outs of obtaining a film permit for photography – and why and when you’ll need one. Whenever I am doing a commercial project, or have been hired by a client to produce a photoshoot, I will go through these steps to obtain a film permit. Working with the City of Seattle Film Office is super easy – and the staff is very friendly! When I first started out as a young photographer, I found this process to be super daunting, so I wanted to share how easy and inexpensive it is for you to get a permit for your next project!
Why do I need a film permit?
Applying for and obtaining a permit will allow you to be on public property and gives you permission to be there, and basically gives you the “right of way” to work in a space. Typically used by film crews, “still photography” still needs a permit to work on public property.
Some examples of when you would need to obtain a permit,
— Doing any type of photoshoot at the Volunteer Park Conservatory
— Large scale productions at any park (where you are bringing lighting equipment, large reflectors, etc.)
— Any situation where you are blocking traffic or asking people to move
How to get your permit
Step One — Head to the City of Seattle Film + Music website to apply for a permit
Step Two — Print & fill out the three forms listed on the link above
It’s super easy to screen shot a Google Map of the area you will be working in and using a photo editing software to draw a box around where you intend to do your photoshoot
Step Three — Use an app like TurboScan Pro to scan your application with your phone and email a PDF
When you have everything all ready – just email your PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some other things to keep in mind,
— Apply for a film permit well in-advance so you have enough time to correct any mistakes in your application and to be sure that you will be able to use the space for the planned day of your project
— Film permits usually are $25, sometimes more if working with a specific location
— You’ll need to have insurance for your business – as part of the application process is providing proof of liability insurance.
Print your permit & have an awesome photoshoot!
To see an example of a recent photoshoot in Seattle we did where a permit was required, go check out the full post on our LilyEmme Lookbook photographed at the Volunteer Park Conservatory!
Michelle Moore is a Seattle-based on-location portrait and lifestyle photographer. Her work takes her to many beautiful and unique locations – and she is always available to travel. Michelle specializes in natural-light portraiture as well as on-location lookbook photography for clothing & jewelry brands as well as commercial lifestyle imagery used for marketing and branding. Please reach out via the contact form for information and availability about working together.