Bob Shell: Photographers Fight For Their Rights, And Win!

classic nude photograph of white female in forest with great ass
Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2022

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2022


Photographers Fight For Their Rights, And Win!


As reported in the June issue of ‘Professional Photographer’ magazine (the official publication of Professional Photographers of America,

On January 24, Grand Teton National Park released new rules governing wedding and portrait photography, and only wedding and portrait photography, within the park. These rules stated that wedding and portrait photographers had to apply for a $ 300 commercial use permit to make photographs of their clients in the park. The photographer had to be CPR certified, wear a nametag while working in the park, carry general liability insurance that covered work inside the park, pay a monitor to observe them while they worked in the park, and pay the park 3% of their earnings from each session in the park. The wedding parties were limited to 40 persons and could only be photographed at six designated locations. Photographers were no longer allowed to photograph small wedding parties of twelve or fewer persons in other areas of the park. Portrait sessions were limited to areas within a half mile of a road. Finally, photographers were required to notify the park 30 days before any session.

These rules went into effect without any advance notification to photographers or any photographic organizations, and with absolutely no public input.

In January of 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling in Price v. Barr holding that permits and fees for commercial filming are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The ruling did not specifically address still photography, but its extension to still photography is obvious.

Grand Teton National Park is in Wyoming. Over 400 photographers and associated persons signed a letter to Wyoming Senator John Barrasso opposing the new rules. The Professional Photographers of America was joined in opposition to these new rules by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), and the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA, of which I am one of the founders).
As a result of this opposition to restrictions on freedom of expression, the National Park Service has launched a review of its policies across all 50 states and US territories.

On a personal note, when I was holding my nude photography workshops from the 1980s through 2002, I had wanted to hold some in National Parks. I was told that nude photography in our National Parks is specifically prohibited by National Park Service rules, even though prominent photographers have done it for years.

My late friend Galen Rowell wrote an article in ‘Outdoor Photographer’ opposing this ridiculous policy and drew a lot of flak for it. So, if National Parks Parks were out of the question, I approached the State Park Commission in Nevada, which has no such rule, and welcomed me. I conducted an annual nude photography workshop in The Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas for years with no problems. Yes, there was paperwork, and I had to carry insurance indemnifying the park, but it was not a major problem.

Generally speaking, photographers respect nature and go out of their way to leave behind no traces of their presence. (But Ansel Adams carried a saw and was not above sawing off an obstructive tree limb to get just the right picture!)  When my workshops were over, I always walked the whole area picking up discarded film packages and other trash, much of which was not left by my workshop attendees. We had zero impact on the park and were welcomed back year after year.

Photographers must assert their right to photograph anything and anywhere so long as they cause no harm.


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell related to UFO’s, click here:

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