A couple holds each other romantically in Glacier National Park.
@2023 Lovelight Photography – Montana Based Elopement, Wedding and Portrait Photography – www.lovelightmontana.com


The bipartisan EXPLORE (Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences)  Act (HR 6492)  containing the FILM ACT has passed the House Of Representatives.

Once signed, this bill will replace the photography and videography laws currently in place for National Forests, National Parks, BLM land, Wildlife Refuges, and other federal lands.

What will this new law do? 

  • Remove the commercial/non-commercial permit requirements. The exchange of money would have nothing to do with whether or not you are required to get a permit.
  • Remove the photographing/video distinction. It makes no difference if you are video recording or photographing.
  • Base photography permits on impact. If you have a film crew (workers) of more than 6 individuals a permit would be required.

Really important verbiage to read and understand as a photographer working on Public Land about this Bill:

‘‘(B) NO ADDITIONAL PERMITS, COMMERCIAL USE AUTHORIZATIONS, OR FEES FOR FILMING AND STILL PHOTOGRAPHY AT AUTHORIZED EVENTS.—A filming or still photography activity at an activity or event that is allowed or authorized, including a wedding, engagement party, family reunion, or celebration 20 of a graduate, shall be considered merely inci21 dental for the purposes of paragraph (2)(B). ‘

‘(C) MONETARY COMPENSATION.—The receipt of monetary compensation by the person conducting the filming or still photography activity shall not affect the permissibility of the filming or still photography activity”

“(6) CONTENT CREATION.—Regardless of distribution platform, any video, still photograph, or audio recording for commercial or noncommercial content creation in a System unit shall be considered to be a filming or still photography activity under this subsection.”

It is important to know that this is not in effect until the next steps…..

What are the next steps?

The Senate is expected to pass their version of this legislation in the AORA (America’s  Outdoor Recreation Act) act next week at which time (if there are changes), it will go back to the house, and then it’ll head to President Biden’s desk to be signed within 10 days. 

The board members of the PLC are keeping a close eye on this Bill and will keep our members updated on its progress and how it affects photographers working on public lands.

A groom and bride share a moment with each other by a lake in the mountains.
Joanna Adams Photography | Montana Elopement

How has the PLC been involved?

At the inception of the PLC, we began working with elected officials to get legislation through Congress that would improve creative’s ability to photograph and videotape on public lands. Because of our influence, a few Senators were willing to take up the Film Act. We have been in direct contact with PPA, NPPA, other non-profits, and elected officials to help draft, develop, and ultimately get this bill passed. In December, Public Land Creatives sent in testimonies from members in support of this Bill which was helpful in moving it forward.

Working on items like this is not possible without the support of members. Bills like this shape the future of being able to photograph on public lands. Thank you to all of our members for your support and involvement in allowing Public Land Creatives to do this work!

A couple of skis on a sunny day in their wedding attire.
Jill Jones Photography | Montana

Other things to know about the Explore Act

  • Addresses parking limiations
  • Modern technology to assist in improving visitor experiences
  • Protects rock climbing in certain areas
  • Restoration of campgrounds
  • Creates new bike trails
A couple floats on an alpine lake on packrafts.
Shell Creek Photo | Colorado

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