Photography & Filming

a person taking photos at Crabtree Nature Center

Share photos, join our annual photo contest or find out if you need a permit for your photography or filming.

On this page:

Share Your Photos

We love seeing photos from our visitors. When you capture a great photo out in the forest preserves, be sure to share it with us in one of the following ways:

Bonus: If you are willing to grant us permission to use your photos for brochures, social media or, we will credit you as the photographer any time we use them. Reach out to us on FacebookTwitterInstagram or email

Annual Photo Contest

Each September we search for the very best photos of the forest preserves. Winners of this contest are included in the Annual Forest Preserves Wall Calendar and receive a prize package.

Photography & Filming Permits

Taking photos during a hike or stopping by to snap a few wedding day photos? No permit needed. But if your photography or filming uses special equipment, impacts other visitors or occurs in restricted areas, you may need a permit.

Permit applications may be submitted in person at the Forest Preserves General Headquarters or via fax (708-771-1071) or email (

When do I need a permit?

Photography, filming, painting or drawing that meets one or more of the following conditions:

  • Takes place at a location where public access is generally not allowed
    Example: filming in the private office area of a campground
  • Takes place at a time when the location is closed to the public
    Example: filming at night
  • Requires exclusive use of a location
    Example: closing a public preserve for a photo session
  • Uses props not naturally found at the location
    Example: photographing a product for a website
  • Uses model(s)
    Example: photographing models for a clothing catalog
  • Uses equipment that requires an external power source other than a battery pack.
    Example: using lights hooked up to a vehicle or generator
  • Uses equipment that requires mechanical transport.
    Example: using an all-terrain vehicle to move film equipment to a remote location
  • Requires the Forest Preserves to incur additional administrative costs to manage and oversee the filming/photography to avoid unacceptable impact to forest preserves resources or to minimize health and safety risks to the public.
    Example: A filming session that requires the use of Forest Preserves police officers to keep the public safe.
  • Involves 25+ people.

Photography Events

a person taking photos at Crabtree Nature Center
Thu, May 2 • 10 am

Phone-tography 101

Deer Grove • Cook County, IL 60074 (near Palatine)