Surprise proposal at the Lincoln Memorial. Washington, DC engagement photographer.

Most people don't realize that the wedding and engagement photos they see usually take place at locations that require a photography permit. For example, couples who want engagement photos at the monuments need to apply for a permit and pay a $140 fee to the National Park Service. It's a fairly easy process when you work with an experienced photographer. Even if you're not, check out this information, it'll help your planning process.

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Couples photos at the Lincoln Memorial. Washington, DC lifestyle photographer.

When I first started shooting, I quickly realized that a lot of locations in Washington, DC are owned by the National Park Service (aka NPS). Places like the National Mall, with all of the iconic monuments like The Jefferson Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and really any memorial/monument/park in the immediate surrounding area fall into this category.

Wedding photography at the Lincoln Memorial. Washington, DC couple walking through Lincoln Memorial.

If you’re interested in any kind of wedding or engagement photography with those elements, you have to apply for an NPS permit to photograph there and pay a fee. If you try to shoot without a permit, you run the risk of your photoshoot being cut short if a park ranger asks to see your permit.

Here is a link with a long description of what to do from NPS. Or, just read my version:

  • Fill out the Application Form: This is the form you need to fill out: Special Use Permit - Commercial Filming/Still Photography (Short Form). There is a nonrefundable processing cost of $90.00 when you turn in your application. Write this fee in the “Amount to be Billed to Card: Application Cost” on the Credit Card Authorization page.

  • Figure out Your Location Fee: In addition to the $90 application fee, there is a location fee based on the number of people being photographed. For an engagement session, that number is 1-10 people, so that will cost you an additional $50 ($140 total). For a couple and their wedding party, if you go above 10 people, that lands you in the 11-30 person range, which is an additional $150 ($240 total).

Engagement photography at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Washington, DC engagement photographer.