The City of Colorado Springs has recently proposed a new fee structure for photographers and videographers producing commercial content at city parks, including Garden of the Gods, removing an exemption with a twist.

Under the current fee structure, commercial permits are required for almost anyone making money off of content produced in Colorado Springs parks, with fees ranging from $250 to $500 per day. While most commercial photographers must pay the price to use the parks, an exception is currently given to those producing content for a client’s personal use, including services like wedding photography and graduation photos.

The proposed fee structure would maintain the daily permitting fee for most commercial photographers, while removing the exception for those currently exempt, dubbed portrait photographers. That being said, those currently exempt would not be subject to the hefty daily fee, rather a single-time fee ranging from $250 to $500 per year, with the Garden of the Gods being the most expensive park to create content at. All other parks cost $250.

Following the proposal of a fee for portrait photographers, Callie Riesling, a local photographer that specializes in portraits and weddings, started a petition on change.org asking Mayor Suthers of Colorado Springs and Carly Kobasiar, the Special Events Supervisor of Colorado Springs Parks, to reconsider the annual fee.

Riesling’s complaints revolve around a potential negative impact that could be seen among local photographers. According to her, “this permit will affect the small business community and their clientele because permits will either cut into a small business owner’s bottom line […] or the other option is to pass this cost down to their customers.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Riesling’s petition has gotten more than 8,600 signatures. Among the complaints of petition signers include the high cost and charging for activities in public parks.

Pricy permits for commercial photography and videography at well-known destinations aren’t uncommon. According to the City of Colorado Springs, a fee-based permitting system allows the parks department to have better oversight over what’s going on, helps to increase visitor safety, and “allows commercial users to give back to the sustainability of the park.” The revenue from permit programs is used to help fund park maintenance, programs, and projects.

Per the Colorado Springs Commercial Film Policy, “commercial film/photography” is “photography or videography that is done for money-making purposes, in furtherance of a business, or incidental to a person’s business. This includes video or photos that produce revenue, real estate photography, news media, telecommunications or other commercial uses.” See the policy here and see the proposed policy here.

An application fee of $25 also applies for all parks and applications must generally be submitted 14 days prior to the shoot date. Applicants must also submit a $1,000,000 certificate of insurance that lists the City of Colorado Springs and city employees as insured. See more information about applying for permits here.

These proposed changes ARE NOT FINAL, but could go into place as early as this spring. Feedback can be sent to events@coloradosprings.gov.

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