Wildlife Photography

Photo Blind 1-Looking From the Inside

 "A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety" (Ansel Adams, A Personal Credo [1943]).

Photo Blind 1 location-Off Bench of Kenai TrailOpportunities for wildlife photography are located at or along the following places: (1) the Wildlife Viewing Area; (2) Refuge Headquarters/Visitor Center area (3) Kenai Nature Trail; and (4) Wildfowl Lane (the county road that runs through the refuge). Visitors must follow refuge regulations to protect wildlife and their habitats while enjoying the opportunity to view and photograph them.

Two permanent photo blinds are located along the Kenai Nature Trail. Blind 1 is located one-third of a mile from the Visitor Center area on Pond 8; it sits on the edge of 5 acres of open water and marsh land and is sheltered to the east by cottonwood, aspen and alder trees. Blind 2 is located about 1.25 miles from the Visitor Center bordering Pond 10. The blinds are positioned on the edge of two different wetlands and face to the west. The blinds are not heavily used, as such, they are open to use on a first-come basis; no advance reservation process is in place. 


Photographer using Tablet for PhotoRefuge staff thank the photographers who helped determine the design, construction, and placement of these photo blinds.

Photographers are gently reminded that subjects and habitats are more important than photographs; nevertheless, there is always the potential to disturb wildlife. Refuge staff encourage you to embrace the ethical guidelines, i.e. access to public lands, field practices and truth in captioning, published online by the North American Nature Photography Association.


Commercial Filming and Photography

You may be a commercial photographer by our definition. Public Law 106–206 determines whether a filming activity is commercial or not by this central criteria: the agency considers if it is intended for a market audience for the purpose of generating income. However the content of the material does not play a role in determining whether a permit is necessary. If you wish to do commercial photography on the Refuge, you need to apply for a commercial activities special use permit.


Please read 43 CFR Part 5 (Office of the Secretary of the Interior) thoroughly for context and understanding of commercial filming and photography on the Refuge. Here's are two snippets contained from this specific Federal Registry publication (this is a series of FAQ/comments from the public concerning this law with responses from the government clarifying comment issues): 


Comment 1: The regulation puts too many restrictions on still photographers and requires most still photographers, including hobbyists and visitors, to obtain a permit and pay fees to photograph on agency lands.

Response: This was not the intent of the proposed regulation. The general rule is that still photography does not require a permit. We have edited the language of 43 CFR 5.3(b) to clarify the still photography permit requirements of Public Law 106–206 and renumbered it as § 5.2(b). This regulation implements the three circumstances listed in the law where a permit for still photography is or may be required. We will require a permit for still photography when the activity uses models, sets, or props, and we may require a permit when the photographer wants to enter an area closed to the public or when on-site management is necessary to protect resources or to avoid visitor conflicts. However, we anticipate that most still photographers will not fall into these categories and will not need a permit to take photographs on lands managed by DOI agencies.


Comment 7: A commenter asked that a definition of ‘‘model’’ be added. The commenter felt that the section on the use of models, sets, or props would require everyone to get a permit. Visitors should not have to obtain a permit to take pictures of families and friends.

Response: A definition of ‘‘model’’ has been added to 43 CFR 5.12 providing that, for the purpose of this regulation, family members or friends not being filmed to promote the sale or use of a product or service are not considered models. Therefore this activity would not require a still photography permit. Filming and photography activities by visitors are addressed in § 5.2(c). The definition also provides that individuals being photographed for events such as a wedding or a graduation are not considered models and therefore aren’t required to have a permit for the still photography activity under those criteria. However, if the activity results in additional cost to the government due to required monitoring of the activity by agency employees, a permit may be required for which location fees and cost recovery charges may be collected. Other laws and regulations may also govern this type of still photography.