Requesting permission to shoot on private property

Once you know your rights as a photographer, where you can and where you can’t shoot, you are pretty much almost there!  Keep in mind you can shoot on public property unless there are certain permits required – always do a quick google search for your predetermined location – some places are instituting a photography fee.

Spending a few minutes to search or ask for permission can avoid any fines, penalties, and embarrassment in front of clients by being kicked off a property.

See also information on Shooting Public Places!

But if you find a location that is private, you MUST have it – do your research and professional due diligence. Just like anything else in business, it is important that all responsibilities and liability are outlined in written agreements.  Approaching a private property owner can be daunting, especially if not equipped with a script or written agreement.  Here are some legal tips to reduce that anxiety and achieve use of the property you desire!

So read on!

Grab a Property Use Form to outline the agreement between you, the photographer, and the property owner

So what do I even say?

Deciding to solicit someone can be scary, especially if you’re an introvert, but here are some tips to help you out:

Identify who you are – Let them know you’re a registered business (offer to show documentation).

Marketing materials – Take marketing materials with you to show what you do.

Lay out your goal – Explain your expected use of the property.

Request permission – Of course! That’s what this is all about. ASK them if you can use it! Worst they can do is say no!

Offer compensation – If they are wary, then offer them some compensation.

Follow up – Send a thank you note!


What types of things should my agreement include?

  • Property description & address
  • Length of agreement
  • Care of premises
  • Release of liability
  • Compensation
  • Ownership of photograph


How do I pick a location?

Just remember, locations aren’t always the most beautiful – get creative!



Owner name:  The county/city has public records that you can request at the appropriate government buildings (County Clerk or County Recorder’s office).  Some places do require a nominal fee in order to secure this information but may we well worth it.

Contract:  We’ve got you covered here! Snag the attorney-written Property Use Agreement from the shop.

Requesting permission to shoot on private property

About the author

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, photographer and business consultant for photographers. She is currently helping creative industry professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction. Disclaimer: I am a lawyer but I'm not your lawyer! View my entire disclaimer here


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